Following the relatively easy fiscal 2014 budget and appropriations agreements, the Pentagon has some level of budgetary certainty for the first time in several years.
Though the Defense Department did not get as much money as it wanted, it has some sense of its funding ceilings and can plan accordingly. Make no mistake — belt tightening will continue as policy and legislation force the Pentagon to root out waste and streamline operations.
Information technology will play a major role in the effort to save money. IT has been recognized as an enabler of cost savings if done right, as demonstrated by the mandates driving cloud computing, data center consolidation, mobility and other technologies.
The Pentagon’s strategic IT direction hinges on progress in eight key areas:
The Joint Information Environment, an effort to bring together all of the Pentagon’s networks.
Business systems modernization.
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance/unmanned systems.
In some cases, the technology may be the easy part. Pentagon leadership must contend with a variety of forces, such as policy changes, declining budgets, acquisition reform and workforce gaps.
Still, the Pentagon has already made some progress. The department has taken steps to implement its cloud computing strategy, such as reducing software duplication, consolidating data centers, implementing virtual desktop infrastructure and designating the Defense Information Systems Agency as its cloud broker.
The Defense Department plans to spend $15 billion to develop and implement enterprise resource planning systems, with a focus on six key systems that are critical for achieving its goal of being audit-ready in 2014 and 2017.
The Pentagon is likely to rely on civilian and contractor staffing to meet its cybersecurity mission, which requires the integration of defense and intelligence operations.
Even as the Pentagon seeks significant contractor support to meet its aggressive IT goals, contractors should expect more scrutiny and price sensitivity.
Deniece Peterson is director of research at Herndon-based Deltek, which conducts research on the government contracting market and can be found at www.deltek.com. To read more on the Pentagon’s strategic IT direction, see Deltek’s “Defense IT: Strategy, Implementation and Challenges” report.