Future Budget Does Not Bode Well for Network Centricity
by Paul A. Strassmann
June 15, 2009
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Report on Information Technology Spending for the Federal Government for Fiscal Years 2008, 2009 and 2010 last month, revealing some interesting priorities. While each of the services is seeing ups and downs because of fluctuating programs, the overall push toward jointness is being shortchanged.
In fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Defense Department is projected to spend $34 billion, which represents 45 percent of the total federal spending of $75.8 billion. However, this forecast is understated because it does not include salaries and benefits for military and civilian employees, nor does it include most of the information technology for the intelligence mission.
The comparison between the proposed budgets for the Defense Department and the overall federal government is noteworthy. The department is projected to spend $12.3 billion in development, modernization and enhancement (DME), which is 52 percent of the $23.7 billion in total federal spending. For sustainment and support (SS), the department is predicted to spend $21.7 billion, which equates to 42 percent of the total federal spending of $52.1 billion.
The difference in year-to-year growth rates in information technology spending also is remarkable. The U.S. Air Force, with an 11.6 percent growth rate, and the U.S. Army, with a 9.2 percent growth rate, exceed the declines in agency and in U.S. Navy spending. Only a small part of the Navy's decline can be attributed to the elimination of the DME from the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI).
A better insight into the differences in the growth of the components' information technology spending can be gained by examining critically important DME spending. Defense Department spending is biased in favor of the DME. The department likes to contract for DME through a complex bureaucratic process; about half of the funding is spent on the DME for equipment that already is in place.
There has been a plunge in the Navy's DME and a big gain in the Air Force's development. Ranking those organizations with the greatest gains or losses exemplifies the major differences. For example, the Navy gains the most, primarily because of the funding for the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN). The gains also reflect a shift from the Navy to the Air Force and to the Army because of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program. The largest reductions in spending are found in the Navy's NMCI and in the elimination of most JTRS costs.
The major fiscal year 2010 funding for network centricity is for the Net-Enabled Command Capability (NECC) at $265 million for the DME in the Defense
The OMB also has offered a functional analysis of Defense Department fiscal year 2010 information technology spending. More than $11.6 billion, or 34 percent of the department's total spending, is classified as delivering military missions, specifically Services to Citizen — Defense and National Security. The remaining 66 percent of costs is listed as Management of Government Resources, which includes $8.2 billion for information management, $3.4 billion for Defense Department information technology infrastructure management and $2.9 billion for information security, plus the funding for administrative, financial, human resource and supply chain management.
Spending on the infrastructure reflects the profligate practices of contractors who are engaged in building project-specific solutions. The department is not implementing its objective of acquiring a shared enterprise infrastructure and certainly is not spending money on network-centric solutions. It continues funding development, modernization and enhancement that is inconsistent with Defense Department directives issued since 2001.