The Army’s last bastion of control in the Pentagon building is coming to an end. The Defense Department is creating a single shared services office for all commodity information technology for the Washington metro area, known as the National Capital Region, and placing it under the Defense Information Systems Agency.
DoD and industry sources say a memo ordering this change is awaiting final signature to create the Pentagon DISA Field Service Activity (Pentagon SSP).
According to a DoD plan for this new organization obtained by Federal News Radio, the Pentagon SSP initial phase will be “limited to analysis and consolidation of common or shared IT services within Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) (4th Estate), Joint Staff offices in the Pentagon, and selected OSD (4th Estate) offices/organizations in the NCR.
Later efforts will extend to the military department headquarters in the Pentagon and NCR, and remaining OSD agencies in the NCR.”
The Pentagon SSP will bring together Army ITA, OSD Enterprise Information Technology Service Division (EITSD) and possible some smaller IT service providers in the new organization under DISA.
A former DoD official, who requested anonymity because the document wasn’t finalized, said the Army had been fighting this change for the last six months or so, but finally Deputy Secretary Bob Work decided the consolidation was necessary and would happen.
“There was a long standing family feud between the Army and Washington Headquarters Services (WHS),” the former official said. “The Army, back in the day, dominated the Pentagon in terms of providing every service.
But over the years, those services eroded and many of the services were given to different organizations. The Army’s IT Agency was one of last standing. But WHS wanted to get rid of ITA for some time and now it looks like it’s finally happening.”
A request to ITA for comment on the new organization wasn’t returned. A Defense Department spokeswoman said DoD declined comment and DISA referred questions back to DoD.
But the document clearly outlines plans, milestones and expected savings to come from the consolidation.
“By 3 June 2015, DISA in partnership with the Pentagon IT Study group will establish a Pentagon DISA Field Service Activity referred to as the Pentagon SSP,” the document stated. “The Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO) will have interim financial control and oversight of the Pentagon SSP with the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DoD CIO) providing technical oversight until the Pentagon SSP reaches full operational capability.”
Initially the consolidation will bring together three main technology functions: Video-teleconferencing, IT support and help desk, and computer network defense, the DoD document stated.
The DCMO and DoD CIO will continue to oversee the Pentagon SSP until it reaches full operational capability at which time DISA will have full operational control over the new organization, the document stated.
DoD estimates by moving to shared services the Pentagon can save up at least $144 million by 2020 — mainly by reducing about 125 full time employees running the duplicative technology infrastructure services.
“Consolidation of IT services for OSD organizations in the Pentagon and NCR will net IT savings for realignment to the warfighter while improving overall cybersecurity,” the document stated. “The majority of identified savings are labor equivalents from multiple organizations providing IT services today outside of ITA and EITSD.”
Once the merger begins on June 3, the Pentagon SSP will decide on a standard set of common IT services for the Pentagon and NCR offices. It will public a list of those shared services and associated performance standards, which must meet or exceed current metrics in place today.
Then by June 17, the Pentagon SSP will begin using the best capabilities from ITA and EITSD.
“Authorization of interim funding authority, resources, and oversight will reside with DCMO. Funding will transition to the Pentagon SSP no later than 18 months or as directed in future published directives,” the document stated. “DCMO and the DoD CIO will publish follow-on guidance for the process by which these transitions and savings will be tracked and reported on a quarterly basis to the deputy secretary of Defense.”
The push for the creation of the SSP came from Deputy Secretary Work. In an October memo, Work called for a review of the cost of the Pentagon reservation operations, specifically around the technology operations.
“This review will identify where these activities are occurring and will utilize fact-based, data-driven, alternatives for integrating such services,” Work wrote in the memo. “This review will be difficult, and will challenge many of our institutional interests, but it is essential that it be undertaken with the most focused aim of achieving significant savings that can off-set reductions in the most critical of our mission areas — preserving our war-fighter capability.”
Another former DoD official said the creation of a SSP is part of an ongoing process to collapse OSD headquarters information systems.
“The intent of this move is not to take over control of all of the military department’s systems and services, which could have military operational impact,” the source said.
DoD’s document doesn’t answer several questions such as happens to the senior executives running ITA and EITSD?
Nor does it say where the Pentagon SSP fits under DISA, and how DISA’s reorganization helps meet the goals of the consolidated services.
“From customer perspective, they will get more streamlined services and everyone will have one entity to call on to take care of problems or needs,” said the first former DoD official. “There is a substantial amount of commodity IT so this will end all those little organic organizations that have popped up across the Pentagon.”
This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.