Defence sets aside AU$70 million for new headquarters' ICT

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) estimates that it will spend between AU$60 million and AU$70 million on new information systems for its Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HJOC) at Bungendore, NSW, which is due to be completed in 2007.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) estimates that it will spend between AU$60 million and AU$70 million on new information systems for its Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HJOC) at Bungendore, NSW, which is due to be completed in 2007.

Air Commodore, Brian Plenty AO, Director General of the Joint Operations Command Project, confirmed the figure for ZDNet Australia last week, as he outlined the ADF's plan to procure 5,000 to 6,000 new systems as part of the effort to co-ordinate strategic and tactical command of Australia's air, sea, land and special operations forces.

The plan to establish the high-tech centre was initiated in 1995 by the then Chief of the Defence Force, General John Baker. It followed from an Inspector Generals' report arguing for improved co-ordination between military planners in Canberra and the ADF's tactical command outposts.

The HJOC will accommodate an estimated 1,000 staff, including those currently dispersed throughout command centres across Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and the Blue Mountains.

According to Plenty, the ADF expects to release tender documents for the information system procurement side of the project by mid-2005.

Plenty said that specialised legacy systems would be kept to a minimum at the Bungendore centre to give planners maximum control.

"The vast majority will brand new equipment and it will be going out to tender... the equipment acquisition strategy for that [is] being developed now and should be finished within the next month," said Plenty.

He said the ADF planned to make the HJOC a larger node in its overall defence network, joining the broader group of systems via terrestrial lines at Canberra.

"In an IT sense, the guys and girls sitting out there could be sitting anywhere because of the linkages so in that sense it'll be exactly the same as if they're sitting in Sydney [or Melbourne]," said Plenty.

The roll-out could be a testing ground for Defence's whole-of-network approach to servicing and supporting its information systems.

Spending on the HJOC's information systems have been split away from the broader project to build the complex, which is expected to be funded through a private financing deal that will see the ADF take a 30 year lease on the facility.

In order to stay within the whole of the network strategy, the information system will be purchased separately through the ADF's Corporate Services and Infrastructure Group (CSIG). The move is expected to bring the rollout under the purview of the Defence CIO and Information Systems Division (ISD).