Tuesday, March 9, 2004
Mr. Lawrence: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created the Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Kevin Carroll, the Army�s program executive officer for enterprise information systems.
Good morning, Kevin.
Mr. Carroll: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation, also from IBM, is Brian Dickson.
Good morning, Brian.
Mr. Dickson: Good morning.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Kevin, that was a mouthful. Could you describe the mission of the Army�s program executive office of enterprise information systems for us?
Mr. Carroll: Yes. Basically what we do, we�re an Army organization who provides program management support for both DoD programs, Department of Defense programs, and the U.S. Army programs. We focus in the business system area, which is like finance, personnel, medical systems, and the IT infrastructure that supports that; the communications, the computers, the servers that would support those business applications. And these aren�t just applications that work in the office -- they do that -- but they�re also applications that go into Iraq, into Afghanistan, and they handle a lot of logistics, medical, financial traffic that our soldiers use overseas. So they�re critically important in the combat service support effort to our war effort in Iraq. And we provide reach-back, meaning that the ability for the soldiers to dial back on web-based systems back to their post to get the information they need to do their job as well as providing reach-back for issues of morale, talking back home to their families, things like that, are a part of the information technology solution we provide.
Mr. Dickson: Kevin, can you share with our listeners the role of the PEO in producing these systems?
Mr. Carroll: Yes. I mean basically, our role is really to deliver results. Basically, we have to provide the acquisition oversight and review with our partners in industry, the contractors, the quality contractors that we bring to bear on the problems and solutions that we have. And then our job is really to make sure that we get products delivered on time, within cost, we get the performance that we need for the soldier. And we kind of do all that in the area of setting a climate or an environment that allows both the industry partners to do the things they need to do to make things successful and for our own employees, the program managers, who have to oversee those programs and are ultimately responsible for those deliveries. And my job basically is to try to help create that enterpreneurish environment within my government organization to get those things done and deliver results for the soldier.
Mr. Dickson: And what�s the total size of your budget to accomplish this?
Mr. Carroll: Well, we spend a little over $2 billion a year. About a billion of that is out of our program planning, you know, how we plan for programs over time; and about another billion a year comes in from reimbursable customers, people within the Department of Defense, people within the Army, who like what we�re doing and bring money to acquire more of those services or more of those products that we have.
Mr. Dickson: And how large is your organization in terms of manpower, and what kind of skills do your people have?
Mr. Carroll: We have an organization of about 600 civilian and military people, and we�re scattered pretty much along the West Coast. We have a program office in Germany that supports the European theater, but pretty much we�re East Coast-bound. It�s really a pretty exciting mixture of people that we have in our organization. We have engineering people, you know, people that are in electrical engineering, computer engineering. We have computer scientist types. We have business people, people that understand accounting and understand how to do analysis of systems. We have acquisition managers, people that understand and went to school and were trained on managing programs, how to get things done to deliver a product that we have. We have people even with some contracting background, you know, knowledge of how to contract -- the government contracting process. So we really do mix those people together in a sense to create an organization that works.
And those skills that we don�t have, that�s where we do contract out and get a program management support effort to come help us -- as well as within the government, there are organizations that exist that we pull engineering talent from, like CECOM, which is an organization out of Ft. Monmouth and Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, where we pull skills out of.
Mr. Dickson: I understand there�s been a reorganization within the Army that�s affected the PEO EIS. Can you tell you tell us about it and what are the implications for the way you do business?
Mr. Carroll: Sure. I�d say approximately three years ago, we were reorganized, all the PEOs in the Army. And really, I�m in a program executive office really just for -- and the IT business arena. There are other PEOs that do missiles and tanks and, you know, the normal things people think about in the Army. All of us were combined under the Army acquisition executive, Mr. Claude Bolton, and he�s the political appointee in charge of that organization. And that�s still true, he�s still my, in essence, my senior rater in doing things, and that hasn�t changed. But at the three-star level, Gen. Yakovac�s in charge of the PEOs and was in charge of us up until just recently, where then we moved in under the CIO of the Army, a three-star general, Steve Boutelle. And Steve�s now our -- my immediate rater that I go to, and then back up to Mr. Bolton.
The important thing in doing this, the reason their alignment occurred, you know, why we went back under the CIO, was the relationship between what Gen. Boutelle�s doing in consolidating the Army enterprises and bringing a network-centric kind of Army in the business application area in particular as well as what he�s trying to do for the tactical side, in the war fight. And by having us under him, we�re going to provide that technical backbone in support of him directly and our functional customers like logistics personnel and medical. We�ll be able to bring all that together and it really will help in the integration effort of the Army, I think, of tying the IT piece, the information technology piece, with the business piece. And I think it�s a lot better fit, and that was the purpose of it.
Mr. Dickson: Can you tell us a little bit about your previous experience and how you got engaged in this line of work and became the PEO?
Mr. Carroll: Sure, yeah. It was kind of interesting. I really, funny enough, was drafted during the Vietnam era draft. And I went to the Army, got drafted in the Army and served there. And so I went out of the Army, learned I should go to college out of that experience; went back to college; took the PACE exam, which was a government exam at that time where you qualified for -- if you got the high score you qualified and you could get accepted in the government. And I applied for that because having a job was very important back in those days with the economy the way it was.
In applying for that, I circled �procurement� or �contracting� because that�s what I did at the University of Maryland, where I went to college. I was acquiring for a cyclotron machine, which is a particle accelerator that was actually in the building, the physics building of University of Maryland. And I acquired semiconductors, diodes, all those kinds of products back then. When I checked that box, then I got selected by the federal government to come in the Department of Transportation and procure -- again, procurement or contracting.
And I kind of specialized, I went to the Coast Guard and specialized in IT. And the Coast Guard was one of the first organizations really that was heavy buyers of enterprise kind of solutions for information technology. That led me on to the Army, where a guy named Dave Borland, who was really responsible for moving the Army and the information technology and had a reputation for being one of the best contracting people in the field; led me to that area.
I grew up through the contracting ranks, worked in an organization called ISSAA and became an SES there, a senior executive there. And then I moved from there to CECOM up at Ft. Monmouth in the acquisition arena still, procurement arena. Then I went to Army Materiel Command and broadened my experience beyond just contracting, much more in the acquisition program management, a little in research, a lot more in the technology industrial base. And then I really moved from there to this job at Ft. Belvoir that I currently have, which is overseeing program managers.
So it was a little different makeup. It�s a crossover, and I think it�s occurring more and more in government now, but we�re having crossover specialists, so you don�t necessarily have to grow up as a program manager to manage program managers, you can come from different professions that have a relationship to that field. And so I was able to cross over. And I�ve noticed more and more people are doing that, like people that are engineering-focused, but have leadership skills and have management skills, they�re starting to move over and manage not just technology, but manage people and providing more of a service solution instead of a technical solution or -- you see more and more of this in life. So for me it�s been a good experience, and I�ve really enjoyed it and, you know, it�s been fun.
Mr. Lawrence: Was there a point in your career or a job in particular where you began to realize you�d be shifting from a subject matter expert, your own skill, to a leader of teams that you described, you know, pushing the leadership skills?
Mr. Carroll: Yeah, you know, really I was sort of -- well, first thing off, I always got assigned jobs it seemed like that were hard ones, that were systems in -- programs in trouble, systems in trouble. And I was lucky enough to get people working with me who were motivated to really get those kind of things done, so I was always had kind of a good team of people around on these various projects that I had experienced in my career. So I sort of was always in a pretty good position to be able to get things accomplished and done that helped me personally and then helped us help the Army get those jobs back on track and moving again. So that ability to effect change and lead teams and get relationships going among people that maybe weren�t having such a good relationship at the time, all those things I think kind of led to it being -- led to me actually getting more into management and leadership than just being a technical expert in a particular field and, you know, I enjoy it.
I mean, I like people and I think all people, no matter if they�re industry or government, you know, that everyone has the capability of doing things and wants to do the right things. And if you can motivate people to where everybody is contributing, then you�ll get that performance and you�ll get that need. And open communications, if you can get people to talk and share and express their fears and frustrations and get all that out there and get it focused, I think there�s more chance that you�re going to be successful, you know, in any job really.
Mr. Lawrence: That�s an interesting point, especially about expressing our concerns and frustrations.
How does technology affect the service members who are currently deployed overseas? We�ll ask Kevin Carroll, the Army PEO for enterprise information systems, when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence, and this morning�s conversation is with Kevin Carroll. Kevin�s the Army program executive officer for enterprise information systems.
And joining us in our conversation is Brian Dickson.
Mr. Dickson: Kevin, what are some of the key information technologies that are changing the way the Army does business?
Mr. Carroll: Well, there�s -- the Army right now is really undergoing a massive transformation. And that�s not just in my area, but across the Army as we try to become a lighter, more agile, more module force. And, you know, we have plans for the future, like future combat system is a big Army initiative, where we can bring Net-centric platforms that can really improve the ability to hit our targets, the ability to save lives, the ability to move quickly. And all those are big technology efforts that have information technology included in them. Actually at the core of a lot of it is the ability to see, know where your enemy is at, know where you�re at, and the ability to be able to strike quickly and get out of there quickly, too.
So all that future technology that the Army�s working on, mostly in the labs today and with industry, is trying to move the Army forward. And so there�s a whole push to kind of do that future combat system effort in the future.
What�s happening right now is there�s a big push for technology implementation in the current structure that we have, because everyone coming back out of Iraq and Afghanistan knows that we have to solve problems today. We can�t be waiting another 5 years or another 10 years, we have to move today. And so there�s been a big push on creating the ability to do that. And in our world, in our particular world, that really is in the communications area, the technology to improve bandwidth.
You know, we still have a problem in our world of getting the bandwidth we need in the isolated places we go in the Army. To get that -- the ability to do our web-based application stuff, we have to have bandwidth or we�re not going to be able to operate effectively. So we need the bandwidth, so communications is going to be a technology that�ll continue to be pushed over the next couple of years for us. It�s going to be pushed forever really, but over the next couple of years for sure, we�ll spend some money to do that.
Information assurance. We continue to, as you all know, continue to get attacked on the information infrastructure. We have some great people that are really working really hard to protect the network from intrusions and attacks. And I think that whole information assurance area, the technology in that, is going to continue to be needed and to be a big growth area for us.
We�re also doing enterprise resource planning tools, ERPs, the SAPs, the articles that people saw, those kind of solutions across the Army, because we really do want to change the way we do business. We practice in pretty much all of our areas, personnel, logistics, medical; we�re still practicing old business practices, some coming from World War II that have not really made that big dramatic change. And we want to change the way we do business. We want to be more business-like in how we conduct those applications -- how we conduct those business processes. And so this movement towards the ERP solution, like industry did, is a big thing on our plate for the next couple of years. And for us, that�s a growth area I think that you�ll see continue across all of our programs.
And then the other issue�s training. We�ve really trained -- it�s not so much a technology issue, but what we�re finding is that we can create great software products, we can take them out to the field. We do conduct training on the actual application, but what we don�t really conduct training on is the business process change that�s going on. And we�re going to have to spend more time and more money in training and making sure that the soldiers that touch our equipment really can understand what they�re getting and how that changes what they�re doing in their business-day lives every day and really make our systems more effective as a result of that, more user-friendly to them, much more capability than they have today. And so I think those areas are going to be big over the next couple of years while we continue to work for the big future, and that�s more along the lines of how does all this get tied together in a big network-centric manner?
Mr. Dickson: As you said, much of your effort is focused on modernizing the Army�s business systems, the so-called back-office systems. What kinds of impacts will these efforts have on the soldier, especially the deployed soldier in Iraq and other forward areas?
Mr. Carroll: Well, actually on some of the systems that we have in Iraq and Afghanistan today, it actually saves lives. Interestingly enough, you wouldn�t think that for a business system or a combat service support service, but we -- for example, we field a system called movement tracking system, which a is global positioning system, but it also allows you to do two-way messaging from the truck back to headquarters, back to the States actually, and it provides some visibility of asset management -- of your logistic stuff.
And we have had cases in Iraq where when we were moving -- the logistics guys were following the war fighters towards Baghdad. And in those moves, we had the ability for people that had the units, there were some that didn�t have the units, but the people that had the units had the ability to -- we knew where they were at, we could direct them away from the fight. When they were in trouble, we could redirect them, the Jessica Lynch kind of story, you know. We don�t know this for sure, but we know they didn�t have a movement tracking system. They were in a logistics group. If we had had that capability in that truck, we might have been able to notice they were going the wrong way and try to redirect them. That has happened. People have called in support when they�ve been attacked because of that system.
So some of these business systems are crossing over into really that area of lifesaving that you would expect normally from the other PEOs, my sister PEOs, that are really focused more towards survivability and destruction in a sense. And so for us, that�s a big thing.
The medical, the MC4, we have a medical system that�s in Iraq that�s patient care, where the medic has the handheld medical record of the soldiers in their unit, and they�re able to use that system. And that�s helping to get quicker action and get a soldier keyed up for being redeployed back to a hospital, to, say, a MASH unit, where they could really get support with all that data collected at the time of the injury or the time of the initial examination of the patient. So that�s a big system.
And of course, logistics. I mean, as you know, without fuel, without the ammunition, without food and water in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan, you know, you�ve got to have that or you�re not going to win. And our logistics systems have taken on much more of a visibility into the fight now than ever before. And so for us, I mean, there�s no better really payoff in our world now than today for the war fighter and how we affect the war fighter.
So our whole view of being an installation-based, you know, taking care of the people in the office that do supply and maintenance and personnel, all that�s out the window now. We really are focused on how does all this benefit that war fighter and that soldier, the man and the woman on the ground that�s doing the fighting for our country. How do we get the stuff that they need from our systems to help them be successful?
Mr. Lawrence: You talked about Iraq. I�m curious, you know, how many of your employees are actually stationed in Iraq? And then what are the logistics of sort of managing this global team?
Mr. Carroll: Yes, it has been a challenge. Actually, we have about 135 people in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Interestingly enough, the large segment of those are contractors that support our information technology systems. A lot of them are in communications because that�s obviously an important thing for us, but they�re also in the medical system, logistic system, you know, we�re involved across the spectrum.
What it�s done to us lately, though -- when the war came about, not only with the planning for it, but then in execution, it obviously reprioritized what we�re doing. Everything�s focused on the Iraqi OIF, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. That�s kind of our priority. We�ve realigned our money along those lines. We�ve realigned our efforts, our focus. Those are the things that we�re really doing, and that�s forced us to really balance what we want to do for the future because we don�t give that up, you know, move into business process, change for the future of the Army. But at the same time, we want to take care of the immediate needs of the soldiers overseas, and that�s kind of been a priority issue.
It�s been a little juggling that has to occur as to how much goes for the current fixes and how much for the future. And so it�s not an easy decision for our customers who really make those decisions for us as to where they want to put their money and what they want to invest in. The supplemental that Congress gave us really has helped in that manner, because that provided money that really allowed us to do some of the current efforts that are ongoing today in Iraq and Afghanistan. So that really did put a spark into doing stuff currently without too much of a disruption to the future.
Mr. Lawrence: As I understand it, you�re also involved in Iraq with rebuilding the commercial infrastructure.
Mr. Carroll: Yes. We have a program, it�s called KICC, Kuwait-Iraqi Communications Center, that we�re working to put really infrastructure for three groups, communications infrastructure for three groups. One is our U.S. forces. We just finished the build-out of a fixed communications. So we�re taking what the Signal Corps officers in the Army took over to Iraq. We�re in there today now making that permanent, putting better equipment in, making it a better performance, and then turning it over to a contractor-run facility so that those soldiers can come back. And we�ve actually already had a brigade that has come back as a result of that effort, so we�re spending a lot for the U.S. Army to get the fixed communications infrastructure in place.
And then another piece of that that we�re spending with the coalition partners, you know, the English, the Polish, all the people that are over and helping us in war and making sure that that backbone that we�re putting for the Army, that they are connected with that effort. So we�re spending time with the coalition.
And then recently, we took over for the CPA, for the Coalition Provisional Authority, working with the State Department and DISA, which is the DoD communications infrastructure. And we�re working right now to build up the coalition infrastructure, both in the embassy and in what they call the Green Zone, the safe zone, sort of except shots come in there every day, but the Green Zone area, too, to build that infrastructure up for the authority to be able to do their thing.
So we have a really big effort, people that are really working long hours and taking risk, both contractors again and government, who are really trying to get that infrastructure in place. So that program will continue this year, and our belief is it�ll even continue into next year. We�re trying to build up that infrastructure and commercialize it.
Mr. Lawrence: That�s a fascinating point. I didn�t realize you were doing so much overseas.
The latest acronym is ITES. What is it and why does it matter? We�ll ask Kevin Carroll, the Army�s program executive officer for enterprise information systems, when The Business of Government Hour continues.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence, and this morning�s conversation is with Kevin Carroll. Kevin�s the Army program executive officer for enterprise information systems.
And joining us in our conversation is Brian Dickson.
Mr. Dickson: Kevin, we�re hearing more and more about the importance of joint combat operations involving all the various services. What are you doing in your work to ensure greater interoperability between the Army systems and those systems of the other services?
Mr. Carroll: That�s a good point, Brian. These last couple of years in particular have been -- we the Army have really spent a lot of time working in the joint community. We realize that the joint community really does call the shots. We want to be interoperable with where the whole Department of Defense is moving and to include with our coalition partners. And so in the design of our systems today, we�re not doing anything that does not get the approval of what we call the domain owner, which really is the DoD responsible party for their architecture.
So for example, if we�re doing logistics work in the Army, which we are, the architecture we�re using within the Army, we take it to DoD, to the DoD logistics organization and get its blessing that we are fitting within that architecture from the DoD perspective. So as the Navy and the Air Force are building their solutions for logistics and our solution, we all interoperate within a common architecture. And we�re doing that in personnel, we�re doing that in the finance, and we�re doing it in the information technology arena.
So we�re really spending a lot of upfront architectural time that we used to not do years ago to make sure that we have interoperability occurring, and that�ll help us do a couple of things. One is to reduce systems, get rid of duplication that we do have. Within the Army, we have it. Within DoD, we have. So we�re hoping that�ll help on that issue.
It�ll provide the visibility that the joint commander needs today. And a lot of that came out in Iraq, the ability to see supplies between services, for example, in our area; the ability to access, you know, not only ammunition, but the food and the fuel and parts for -- you know, we had a big issue for tracks, remember, for the -- we were breaking and not getting the production out of tracks for our tanks, and that was a big issue that we needed -- we were finding -- anyplace we could find a track, we wanted to see that and the joint commander wanted that. And so by having our information technology systems where they�re able to go view that, hey, that�s in Germany, let�s get it over to Kuwait or Iraq immediately, really was a big payoff. And so all of that having the systems tied together so that the commander can direct the troops is very, very important. How we ensure that we�re doing all that stuff, like I mentioned, is architecture.
We also have an interoperability, joint interoperability requirement in all of our programs. And that requires us that prior to deploying a program, we have to get a blessing from the joint community, the J6, we call them; but basically, it�s the information technology part of the Army at the Joint Staff, that our system is interoperable with their architecture and the things they want from a technical perspective. And we test for that as part of our testing process, and we have to get their blessing that they�re satisfied that we�re meeting the standards, the goals, and the architecture for the IT information system stuff. And that really helps bring about what we all want, which really is when it comes time for the fight, it doesn�t matter what service, what uniform you have on, we�re together, one unit, and the commander can direct and not have to play around with 10 or 12 information technology systems to get the answer that he or she needs to get the job done.
Mr. Dickson: I understand that the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions, or ITES, initiative is an important focus of your organization. Could you tell us about ITES?
Mr. Carroll: We started a while back. In the Army, we�ve had a number of contracts that we�ve been doing through the Army, small computer program, which is under us. And basically, they were commodity contracts. So either commodity for products or even commodity for services, for labor. And that was kind of the approach that we had been taking in the past. And that allowed all the users within the Army open to the Department of Defense and even open to outside services, like GSA and places -- other government agencies, and they could order what they needed to create something. But as we started within the Army having this need to consolidate our information technology systems and to begin approaching things in an enterprise manner, it really led to us to start thinking we really don�t want commodities.
What we�re really looking for is solutions to problems that we face and that industry has already faced in their consolidations within their corporate structures, and so kind of we�re doing the same thing. And so the idea was how can we create a contracting vehicle that would help us to begin focusing on solutions to a problem and let industry have more choices when they propose to us on how they could go about solving a particular solution based on their experiences that they�ve had with other corporate and government customers? And that led to this idea of an information technology enterprise service contract.
And we still -- it�s broken into two pieces. One piece still deals with the commodity area: the servers that are needed for consolidation, a lot of the technology, communications equipment, the things that would be needed to consolidate, let�s say create a web server form, for example, that kind of technology. And we award it to some real high-quality vendors on that piece of the contract. And that�s open forwarding, and anybody can order off of that.
The kind of the more interesting piece is the second piece, which is the solutions contract piece. And again, we spent a lot of time, took our time selecting contractors that we felt could bring the value we needed to give us creative solutions to our technology problems. So we went through a detailed selection process and picked the vendors we felt very comfortable with. And the whole idea of this is that then we can write statements of objectives, kind of high-level mission needs with some of the performance expectations that we in government have, come out to industry, industry can come back using the technology off of the other contract, but using their brains and their services to put together a solution that really will, hopefully, move us quicker to the consolidation and help us really reduce cost, get performance up better on the systems that we have, and really lead us to this enterprise connection across the Army where we�re really trying to create one network, one virtual network, but one network across the Army.
Mr. Dickson: What are the major challenges that you see to achieving this vision?
Mr. Carroll: Well, actually, interestingly enough, the hard parts -- I mentioned about the statements of objectives. Getting us in the government to think through what we really are after at a high level is a bit challenge. We were better at actually kind of writing out what we know, like from a technical viewpoint, and these are the kind of things we want. And of course, that automatically and in industry�s case, they usually want to give us what we want, so they�ll do what we kind of tell them to do and the creativity gets squashed. And so we�re trying to really raise that up and have our guys sit through, think through exactly what we�re trying to accomplish here.
What would be a big payoff for our customers through these contracting vehicles once we got delivery of that services or that solution? And so that�s a big challenge, just to -- you have people step back, think big picture, try to write out the objectives, and really try to write out the how we would know if we�re successful or not, what would be our metric for success. And that isn�t an easy thing to do. It�s easier to give briefing charts about how to do it. It�s harder to actually do in your particular environment. And it requires that you get the right people there that can do that. Help -- I mean, we�ve turned to outside industry actually, a couple of consulting kind of organizations to come and help us think through that our ourselves, an outsider that can kind of work as that liaison between our players to help do that. I�d say that�s probably the one big challenge.
The other one is that assuming we get through that, and let�s say that we pick up -- a good example would be portal technology. Let�s say that we -- industry has outsourced a lot of their own web-based portal efforts. And so we could go out with some help and get the smart thinking and try to figure out what are the important metrics for running a portal and outsource that, let the vendors take it over, and then, you know, get better performance and better and lower cost even. So we can do things like that.
Historically, we in the government have been better at putting that at the start of a contract. We�re not so good at monitoring them, you know, and determine if we actually made the results over years or not. And part of it�s very difficult. The challenge is like people. A lot of times, our business case analysis of doing this kind of stuff says we�re going to lose X-number of systems administrators. And that�s true; in the real world, that is what happens. But in the Army, who owns those systems administrators is everybody. I mean, there�s tons of people that own them, they�re not under one hat. And so the ability to determine if that system administrator really went away or did they get reutilized for other priority mission stuff, it�s very difficult sometimes to capture the savings and verify the facts. So that�s the challenges.
Mr. Dickson: So are you attempting to tackle that problem?
Mr. Carroll: Yes, we are. We�re trying to really learn from industry, I mean, the experiences, because, I mean, industries have the same problem. And we�re trying to learn of what they�ve experienced as well as the other government agencies who have tried this and learn and trying to build a way into capturing that a lot better, to use a process where we really are finding a way to measure over time to determine if we�re doing it. Unfortunately, though, we�ve only been able to get through the decentralization of the government organization on how it manages money and people.
That�s still the big challenge for us is to really be able to -- we can determine -- I think we feel more comfortable now that we can determine where with 20 people running the system and now it�s being run with 4, as an example, we feel comfortable with being able to track that that�s true and we can measure that. We don�t know, though, if the Army the budget people would not be happy because we can�t really show them that there�s 16 peoples� worth of savings that went somewhere. And that still is a challenge and I haven�t figured out -- I or the -- I don�t think the Army has figured out a way to kind of solve that problem as of yet.
Mr. Lawrence: There�s much talk these days about performance-based contracting. However, our guest has actually been a leader in this area. So what is it and why is it important? We�ll ask Kevin Carroll, the Army PEO for enterprise information systems, for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence, and this morning�s conversation is with Kevin Carroll, the Army�s program executive officer for enterprise information systems.
And joining us in our conversation is Brian Dickson.
Mr. Dickson: Kevin, we�ve been talking about the importance of ITES, the Army�s enterprise information technology initiative. I know it�s early in the program, but do you have any lessons learned to date that you could share with us?
Mr. Carroll: Yes, Brian. I�d say the big thing that we learned was how important it was that the effort not be done in a vacuum, and that we really work as a partner with the Army CIO, which we did for the ITES program; Netcom, which has recently stood up under the Army CIO as the network operators. They�re basically going to be responsible for operating the network for the whole Army; a big job. And we knew that whatever we would build as an acquisition organization, they would have to run, so it was very important that we brought them in with us earlier on and help us with the requirements, help us with the source selection, and help us with the evaluation. So it was critical that we got their involvement with it as well as the contracting organization.
We used ITEC4, which is basically an information technology E commerce group within the Army, and they really helped us get the contracting strategy put together and make things happen from the contractor viewpoint. And then, of course, our relationship with CECOM again, our engineering effort, the guys at Ft. Huachuca who helped us write the requirements, really helped us get things going. So that was within the government, very important that all the players be together through that process.
And then another key part as we went through that was going out to industry as we developed pieces of what we were doing with our strategy and the requirements, and to really go out and get industry feedback back into that process so that we made sure. And we did modify our procurement strategy based on a lot of that kind of input, and that was really key to do. And so that helped us I think get procurement tools put in place in a good manner and helped ensure that we got the right guys to do the job from a contractor perspective. And now our next step is to actually deliver the results and show that that vehicle will assist us in getting the program things we want done at an enterprise level completed.
Mr. Dickson: Kevin, you�re known within the Army and within DoD as a very strong proponent of performance-based contracting. Could you explain to us what this concept is and what are the benefits to the Army?
Mr. Carroll: Well, thanks for that compliment. The truth is every -- I think in performance-based contracting, everyone�s a pioneer and there�s very few settlers, because it�s a tough, tough area to do. And we want to do it. We certainly have the motivation in our organization to do more performance-based efforts, because we think it�s rewarding to the contractor community, it�s rewarding to us, things get done faster for the soldier in that regard. So we are proponents of it.
The definition of performance-based contracting is kind of all over the place. I mean, you know, there�s actually courses where everyone has a different definition depending on who�s teaching it on what performance-based contracting means. But basically it�s risk, shifting risk over and letting control go to -- that�s the hard part for the government -- control go to the industry to be able to deliver the results that we have. And it can be any type of -- it can be a fixed-price contract or seat management approaches, paper delivery, paper service kind of contracting. So there�s a whole bunch of different ways of doing it, but none of that is as important as this idea of how do we allow the freedom for innovation, allow the freedom for delivery of the services so that industry can do its thing in their best business way that makes sense to do it, and then we the government can monitor those end results that we�re looking for in order to ensure that we�re getting it, and pay or not pay for those end results when they�re contractually due. And so we really want to try to change the way we�re doing it.
I�d like to be able to tell you that we have tons of successes that I can point to. We�ve been learning. We�ve had some successes, we�ve had some failures on our contract mechanism using performance-based contracting techniques. And there�s a lot of factors to what�s successful and not. Part of it is the way the contract was written. Part of it was the government players involved, the government people involved. Part of it were the industry guys, how committed they were to really doing that. Were they willing to live up to it when they got in trouble to what they committed to? All those things are factors that have -- like I said, sometimes we�ve risen to the occasion and it�s paid off, and sometimes it hasn�t. So it�s a very tough area, but we�re committed to doing it in our program office and we�re going to continue to push to make that happen, and we believe to the benefit of all.
Mr. Dickson: Kevin, what do you see as the future of the business in the combat support services area in the Army?
Mr. Carroll: We believe we�re a growing business. We�re in business. We know our revenue�s increased quite a lot over these last couple of years because we have more customers that are interested in doing enterprise things. And so what we see as critically important now is -- which we mentioned before, was the joint flavor to everything we do. And I think that the combat service support area is going to become more and more joint solutions, you know, the inoperability issue we talked about, all those are critical that we do that. So I think that�s going to be a big push.
We�re going to continue the web-basing and the commercialization of our products. And as you know, in the Army, and this is true in the Marines as well, less so in probably the Navy and the Air Force, but we always have to have the ability that we�re not going to have communications. So we always have to have some ability to keep our functions going without comms, communications, because when we�re running somewhere, like Baghdad, we�re not always going to have communications on the move, although that is a desire for us in the future to do that. So we have to do a little bit of design outside the normal commercial manner, but basically we want to be more commercial-like, web-based-like, and be able to use those systems. And I think that�s going to grow across all those combat service supporters. The need for communications is going to continue to grow for our area.
The Army�s actually working right now in the LAN warrior (?) network effort that Gen. Boutelle has underway, working with the logistics community on a connecting and logistician program that will allow us the ability to get more communications out not just to the logistician, but really to the medical community and the other CSS world, and that�s an important area for us. Some day, we do want to be able to be on the move and have satellite communications, and I think that�s going to be a big growth area in the future.
And cross-functional integration; in other words, the logistics community, the personnel community, the finance community, the procurement community, they�re under -- integrating within their stovepipe or within their community today. My job is to help our customers look actually beyond that and how they interrelate to each other, because they all take data from each other to do that job, and we don�t want them recreating data. We want to have a single source for that data and then have these -- and integration occur across those platforms. And that�ll be a big thing for us, to get to that big issue where the data the soldier looks at is believable, is accurate data, timely, to where it�s data they believe that when we say Part X is in that warehouse, it�s actually in that warehouse; or we say, like, we need people of a certain skill to come to Iraq to do something, we can find that soldier at Camp Such-and-Such with our systems, because that reliability would be so high.
And that�s been a difficult challenge for us, because a lot of people don�t believe the data. And like in logistics is a good example of this, people over-order only because they�re not sure if what they looked at was right. And as we�re tracking in-transit visibility, as we�re looking at parts coming in, which we�ve really done a lot better job, but a lot more to do on tracking parts coming into theater and being distributed within theater, we want the people looking at that data to believe it, that it�s true. And we�re getting there, but there�s still more growth to occur within that community. So I think they�re going to be the biggest things in the combat service support area: the jointness, the web-basing commercialization, and improving the cross-integration.
Mr. Lawrence: Kevin, you�ve had a very interesting career in public service and I�m curious, what advice would you give to someone interested in coming into government?
Mr. Carroll: Well, working in the government is one of the most challenging things that can ever happen to a person. I mean, I spent my life basically in it, so I�m a little biased, but there�s no place that I�m aware of, there may be a few companies, but there�s no place -- really if you come into the federal government and you have energy and you want to do things, you�ll be given authority to move out and go do things. I mean, we�re looking for people to empower and to move. And it�s -- you�re working on a mission that -- you know, it�s a mission focused on lives in the Army�s case, but really throughout the government, be it GSA or HUD or wherever you might work, I mean, it�s all focused towards service to the citizen. And I think you really can�t have a better feeling for what you�re doing and what you�re contributing to for the nation. So it�s very challenging.
Plus, my experience has been is it�s fun. I mean, it�s an enjoyable thing. You have good people that you work for. I�ve said always that you got to look for a job that you enjoy, where people trust you, and where you can move out and do things. And you�ll move up pretty quickly. You never make the -- maybe the big dollars that a lot of people believe they make in industry, but the fulfillment well makes up for that.
We still are a stable place to work. I mean, the federal government is still -- you know, there�s a good and a bad to that, but the good to that from a prospective is it does provide you a baseline where you can grow from and you don�t have to necessarily worry about the stock market or other things that might trouble other employees in the industry. So I think it�s a really good place to go. And I know we are always encouraged by people that want to come work in our organization.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, that�ll have to be our last question because we�re out of time. Brian and I want to thank you for joining us this morning.
Mr. Carroll: Yes, and thank you very much for taking the time and doing this for me and my organization and the Army. And if you�d like to learn more about our organization, if you go to www.eis.army.mil, m-i-l, you can find out about our programs and the people that run our programs. And so thank you very much.
Mr. Lawrence: Thank you. This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Kevin Carroll, the Army�s program executive officer for enterprise information systems.
Be sure to visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today�s fascinating conversation. Once again, that�s businessofgovernment.org.
This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.