The defense establishment is looking closely at the details of the savings initiatives Secretary Gates announced on Monday. Federal employees (military and civilian), contractors, members of Congress, pundants, and defense analysts are all wondering how implementation of these initiatives will affect defense employment and the future of the defense industry. Who will be the winners and losers? The effect on DoD’s insourcing initiative and its Information Technology (IT) organizations has received much initial attention in the press. A Government Executive article, “Pentagon abandons insourcing effort,” speculates that Secretary Gates’ announcement freezing civilian employee levels in OSD, Defense Agencies, and the combatant commands signals insourcing’s demise. Although DoD has not made a public statement specifically on the future of insourcing, Secretary Gates seemed to agree that the insourcing program is on the ropes when he said “we will no longer replace departing contractors with full-time personnel.” However, it was unclear from his comments whether this strict interpretation will apply across the board, especially to beefing up the acquisition workforce. The press has also zeroed in on the effect of Gates’ initiatives for DoD’s (IT) program. The Secretary expressed frustration with the lack of economies of scale being achieved by the department’s IT organizations. He noted the extensive proliferation of IT bureaucracies that had grown up in DoD and pointed to the redundancies, duplications, and increased cost this had created. To address his concerns, the Secretary ordered the consolidation of IT assets and urged the use of common IT functions. He also announced the dismantling of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Networks and Information and Integration (NII) and the Joint Staff J-6 (Command, Control, Communications, and Computers) office because they had become “redundant, costly, and cumbersome.” The winner here appears to be the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The NII and J-6 functions will go to DISA and the Secretary will establish a more powerful Chief Information Officer (CIO) within DISA, which will have “responsibility for daily operations.”
Do the Gates savings initiatives mean the end of insourcing and the rise of DISA?
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