Army Follows Other Branches in Reorganizing IT Efforts
Expect a one-stop cyber shop as network-related programs move to new homes.
PHILADELPHIA—The Army’s shop for enterprise IT services is paring its portfolio, sending the service’s network and defensive cyber efforts to other offices.
“The other services used to have business systems and networks under one PEO, and, years ago, they changed that,” Ross Guckert, the Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems, told Defense One. “So we're finally following suit.”
The reorganization has been underway for about a year with the aim of simplifying leadership and budgeting for network programs and cyber programs. By Oct. 1, the Army’s network efforts will fall under Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical while defensive cyber efforts will go to Program Executive Office Intelligence Electronic Warfare & Sensors.
The latter already has the offensive cyber portfolio, so having all cyber in the same organization promises better collaboration and simplified funding management, said Col. Mark Taylor, program manager for defensive cyber operations.
“While the offensive and defensive missions are very different, some of the processes we use to put out product—there's an overlap there,” Taylor said.
The move also comes as U.S. Cyber Command prepares to take more control of budget and acquisitions, so having defensive and offensive cyber together “and just the coordination that has to occur with enhanced budget control, having us more tightly coupled under one PEO will be helpful.”
Overall, the Army wants the move to be frictionless: no personnel cuts, no relocating, and no changes to existing contracts.
“Contracts are not gonna change; they're gonna remain in place. No one's gonna lose their job,” Guckert said.
Stripping defensive cyber and network programs from PEO EIS means the organization will strictly focus on business and enterprise systems. And with that will come an overhaul in business processes, Guckert said.
The office is building teams to train program managers to develop requirements that leave room for changes and upgrades as technology evolves, a method called agile.
“What's really important about the agile process is getting the requirements and the business process reengineering upfront right,” Guckert said.
“The whole intent of agile is pushing something early and then building upon that. So a 10-percent solution, 15- to 20-percent solution that we might call a minimum viable product that we build on instead of waiting for the 80- to 90-percent solution,” allows for changes during the development process.
Besides the reorganization, PEO EIS is looking to add AI/ML, robotic process automation, and bots into business programs. It will also seek ways to improve how it estimates software costs and motivates vendors to deliver products sooner.
“We want to incentivize the early delivery of value. We're still trying to figure out what that looks like; we have a few solicitations that are getting at that, but…at the end of the day, it's about incentivizing the right behaviors in industry,” Guckert said.
There’s also an initiative to keep software acquisitions on time and on budget because it “historically has a tendency to over-run and over-schedule and we don't really have a good model to estimate it.”
The bottom line, Guckert said: “We can't accept 300- to 400-day acquisition lead times with how the threats are changing…there's the expectation that we push out capability.”