Information Dominance Key to U.S. Security
National defense, homeland security and even electronic government are all dependent on information systems and technology. The Acquisition Reform Act of 1994 mandated the use of information technology in the transformation of both war fighting and business practices, with the intent of increasing efficiency in every functional area.
The nation’s industrial base, represented by the members of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and the Association for Enterprise Integration (AFEI), recognizes the critical value of information assets in both business and operational systems of defense agencies. These companies are committed to developing integrated data systems that deliver information in secure, timely and accurate ways.
Within the Pentagon, the policies, regulations and organization structures that impede speedy implementation of available technology and render information and communication technology inefficient are ripe for change. The department already has initiated improvements in policies, plans and procedures to make better use of secure, accurate and timely data integration that enables superior decision making at all levels.
Also, the department recently has initiated efforts to increase collaboration and information sharing across programs, and to modernize business systems, based on commercial best practices and technology. Pilot projects now underway, implementing enterprise resource planning systems, are examples of an application of commercial products to unique defense processes. Moreover, the department is involved deeply in many of the Office of Management and Budget’s e-Government initiatives.
While e-Government is not central to the defense mission, these are further indications of the department’s migration to network-centric processes that enable collaboration within the department and across other federal agencies.
These efforts should increase the department’s efficiency and effectiveness in performing its core functions and managing information across the defense enterprise. Furthermore, while there have been numerous programs aimed at electronically connecting the Pentagon’s business activity with its industry partners, a more unified approach to modernization of business-system strategies and processes will serve to strengthen the industrial base and improve its capability to provide value to the department.
Information dominance is most often associated with military command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) operations.
Superiority in the generation, manipulation and use of information affords a dominant strategic and tactical military position. However, several factors are converging that indicate a broader scope of information dominance may be necessary. The most compelling of these factors are:
Emphasis on Information
The Board of Directors of NDIA recently adopted information dominance as a top policy issue for 2002, under the title, “Establishing and Maintaining Information Dominance.” The goal is to emphasize the role of information as a defense enterprise asset. NDIA has outlined key recommendations that support the goal of achieving and maintaining information dominance.
Spearheading the efforts on this issue is AFEI, an affiliate association of NDIA. AFEI was formerly known as the CALS Industry Steering Group, which was established at the Defense Department’s request.
AFEI focuses on transformation of processes, modernization of business systems, and alignment of underlying technologies with business strategy and governmental policy, undertaking dialog with other nations.
Today, AFEI also is applying the expert, technical knowledge of its members to support the military services in matters relating to decision superiority in war fighting, and improvements in the delivery of enterprise systems. There are clear parallels, for example, between the network-centric approach to command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) and current trends in business systems modernization. Accelerating innovations in these areas will improve operational effectiveness and instill new efficiencies in support of national security.
AFEI is also a member of NDIA’s newly formed Coalition for Homeland Security and is working with other members of the coalition to sponsor events jointly, with the objective of integrating information dominance into NDIA programs.
AFEI is expanding rapidly through strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Knowledge Management Institute at George Washington University.
Through this expansion, AFEI is working to be a more robust partner with NDIA.
Dr. Marilyn W. Andrulis is chairman and CEO of Andrulis Corporation and chairman of AFEI. Dave Chesebrough is president of AFEI.