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The Global Information Grid’ and ‘Net Centricity’.

What is the ‘Global Information Grid’, what is ‘Net Centricity’ (or ‘Network Centric’), and why is it important to the Department of Defense? A starting point to answer those questions is the DoD CIO’s Strategic Plan, released in October of this year, and The DoD Chief Information Officer’s (John G. Grimes) home page. (I went to the Publications and Articles page to find the things I am sharing, today.) From these two resources you can get at the basics of the DOD’s IT transformation — perhaps the biggest and most ambitious e-Government transformation ever undertaken.

In one sense, the Global Information Grid (or “GIG”) can be thought of as an organizing concept, an abstraction, enabling the DOD CIO to frame and communicate the department’s plans, architecture, and policies for the transformation of its information technology of the future. The GIG consists of everything that DOD IT touches: Capabilities (including weapons systems and programs), Portfolio Management, Governance, Funding and Policy.

A DoD Directive from September 2002 established the Global Information Grid Overarching Policy (available on the DTIC site). That policy statement implements Section 2223 of title 10, United States Code, (b) Section 1401 et seq. of title 40, United States Code, and applies to all DOD components, IT operations, and DoD Acquisitions and procurements of “GIG” assets. It contains the formal definition of the GIG as “The globally interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities, associated processes, and personnel for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating and managing information on demand to warfighters, policy makers, and support personnel.” The GIG is not just the “Global Information Google” for the DOD: it is a Big Deal to the department and it affects how it does its business.

“Net Centricity” has taken on a kind of buzz-word status. But what it was intended to be was a transformational way of doing things with information in the DOD. Net Centricity is to the GIG what a frame is to a building: it should enable all the parts of the house to connect together. The DoD CIO vision of net centricity is based on the assumption that information is a force multiplier, a source of power. If shared effectively, “(i)nformation can be leveraged to allow decision makers at all levels to make better decisions faster and act sooner. Ensuring timely and trusted information is available where it is needed, when it is needed, and to those who need it most is at the heart of the capability needed to conduct Network-Centric Operations (NCO).” Net Centricity should move the department from dependency on systems and operations “based on individually engineered and predetermined interfaces” to an enterprise that “ensures that a user at any level can both ‘take what he needs’ and ‘contribute what he knows’”. (See “The Power of Information – Overview”).

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