The Joint IT Single Service Provider-Pentagon is a much better name than the Pentagon Defense Information Service Agency Field Activity. But in the end, no matter what this new shared service office is called, Defense Deputy Secretary Bob Work signed off on the consolidation of redundant IT services options across the Pentagon Reservation and in the National Capital Region.
As we first reported in April, the Pentagon shared service provider will bring together Army IT Agency, the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Enterprise Information Technology Service Division (EITSD) and possible some smaller IT service providers in the new organization.
The change comes after Work asked the Defense Department deputy chief management officer and chief information officer to review the cost of IT operations across the DoD headquarters.
Work signed off on the memo initiating the change May 1.
“This review has challenged many of our organizational and institutional interests, but it is essential that we undertake this IT transition aimed at achieving significant savings to preserve our war-fighting capabilities,” Work wrote in the memo. “I expect and appreciate your full support, leadership and personal engagement as the department implements these IT decisions.”
Reading between the lines a bit — Work is basically saying, “I know a lot of people are unhappy about this decision, but this is what’s best so deal with it and make it successful.”
In fact, I heard from one of those people by “old-fashioned” Postal Service mail.
After writing the story in April, a letter arrived from an anonymous reader, starting out with “Shame on you Jason.”
The concern from this reader centered on the lack of recognition in my article as well as by DoD about the potential, or real, jobs that will be lost because of this consolidation.
This person said “shared services” is a “friendly, well thought-out term that harkens back to kindergarten when we are all supposed to share and make nice.” Instead, they say what’s really happening is some employees will have to take “the bullet” for the good of the broader community.
While this reader is obviously distressed about the change, DoD continues to make the case for why this is important.
Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, Defense Department spokeswoman, said in an email that the Pentagon expects savings from people and infrastructure.
“From a labor perspective, we are taking a diligent approach to ensure that the end-state manpower levels are appropriate to ensure the long-term viability of the SSP and the expertise of the employees,” Henderson wrote. “Any adjustments in manpower will be determined once there is greater understanding of the best way forward. Manpower adjustments will take place as appropriate to maintain the most efficient expertise to meet the SSP’s mission and will be in line with all human resources processes and guidance.”
From an infrastructure perspective, Henderson said DoD will benefit from greater consistency, increased efficiency and better overall cybersecurity.
“This effort will provide a leaner DoD IT delivery organization with less overhead and reformed business and acquisition practices that will enable end- to-end visibility into the investment and accounting structures that support our IT mission,” she said. “This will enable the DoD to truly understand where our mission spend is required and then leverage the power of DoD spending to drive costs down.”
The joint IT provider will begin with the consolidation of common IT services including technical, contractual and organizational activities to reengineer and consolidate specific services such as computer network defense (CND), service help desk and video-teleconferencing (VTC).
DoD’s decision to consolidate redundant services is as much about saving money as it is about doing what makes sense. The Pentagon doesn’t need multiple organizations providing commodity IT services and capabilities. Even if it means some long-time employees need to find new jobs or gain new skills, no organization in the private sector or government can expect to stay the same.
This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.