Three years ago the Army Corps of Engineers embarked on a massive information technology transformation, switching from a federated system where each of the command’s districts and divisions managed its own IT needs to one large all-encompassing enterprise.
Add to that changing regulations from the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense and the Army itself and, Robert Kazimer, the Army Corps of Engineers Chief Information Officer since May of 2010, tells FedScoop it’s as challenging a change as any organization can go through – but one that’s helping the command become more efficient and organized with regards to IT.
“We’re still transforming,” says Kazimer, “but we’re also now at a point where we can step back to see what’s been done, where there’s room for efficiency and when we can continue to streamline our business processes.”
Some of the initiatives currently in the works include centralizing servers, consolidating data centers and increasing the use of mobile devices on platforms like the iPhone and iPad. There are also a number of pilot programs around knowledge management, including one on enterprise search.
Of course, it’s all a lot harder than it sounds considering the size and scope of the Army Corps of Engineers’ mission. The 34,000-person command is known for government construction (with projects everywhere from the National Capital Region – the NGA being a recent example – and more than $13 billion in projects in Iraq and Afghanistan), but also manages engineering services for 926 ports across the country and more than 12,000 miles of waterways.
Add that on top of the work the Corps does providing expertise during natural disasters, both home and abroad, and having more employees managing resources at national parks than the National Park Service.
“What all this means is we need ways for our people to communicate, collaborate and efficiently handle a complex workload,” says Kazimer, a West Point graduate who was commissioned as an engineer officer to the Army Corps of Engineers out of school.
To manage all of that, Kazimer says he’s put a focus on the business processes behind the technology. He says across the government there has been a strong emphasis on efficiencies, but he’s likely to see more involvement from senior government leaders in the processes of government.
For example, when it comes to the Army’s application rationalization program – one of Kazimer’s top priorities going forward – a number of savings can be made just by picking off the low-hanging fruit. To get to the next level in savings, there needs to be stronger governance from beyond the IT shop, but from those who control the money like chief financial officers or the resource management team.
A few extra notes from our interview with Kazimer:
- His office is doing a network analysis to see how it works with the other DoD and Army networks to take part in enterprise email.
- The Army Corps of Engineers website – and all its other public facing websites – will likely soon get a facelift from the Defense Media Agency who is working to help the command put its best foot forward in dealing with the public.
- The command is increasing its use of social media, namely at the district level where they can provide specific information to citizens in a given area during a disaster.