Defence command system goes back to Cabinet

The project has now been on Defence's books for more than a decade

The New Zealand Defence Force expects to go back to Cabinet with a business case for the purchase of a joint command and control system, three years after Cabinet approved such a purchase.

Spokesman Dave Courtenay says Defence is working with Treasury and the State Services Commission to develop the business case. “This is expected to go to Cabinet for approval in mid to late 2008,” he says.

The project has now been on Defence’s books for more than a decade. Computerworld reported in September 2006 that cost estimates had risen to around $45 million. There is no current figure available.

Defence said then that a team was off to the US in October 2006 for final considerations, with a report to be made to Defence’s executive capability board by the end of the year for subsequent endorsement by Cabinet.

Defence expected to go to industry in the second quarter of 2007.

Courtenay says that since 2004, NZDF and the Defence Ministry have conducted “a number of reviews” to confirm both the scope and the acquisition strategy for the project.

“These reviews resulted in the adoption of a network-enabled capability strategy to guide IT capability with the NZDF,” he says. “The strategy also proposed that NZDF adopt a spiral development philosophy to take full advantage of emerging IT capabilities.

“In early 2008, Defence commissioned Booz-Allen-Hamilton to validate the JCCS user requirements and to assess a potential JCCS solution.”

Defence had told Computerworld in 2006 it had spent, to that date, $2.4 million with Booz-Allen-Hamilton to cover a definition study and to draft an operational requirements document.

At the heart of the matter is the need for interoperability with Australia and the US. Australia has multiple — and very large — joint command and control systems, bought at a time when systems were totally proprietary. The challenge for the Australian Defence Force was to integrate those systems under its interoperability standard.

New Zealand had earlier acquired the Global Command and Control System developed by the US Department of Defence from Northrop technology but with a maritime focus only. Northrop is the main supplier of such systems to the US military.

“The engine room for joint command and control systems is the US,” Defence’s then director of capability development, Captain Andy Watts, said in an interview with Computerworld in 2006. Watts has since been posted overseas.

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Tags defence forcecommand and control system

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