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1/29/2004
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Army Turns To IT To Help Keep Morale Up

US Army Community and Family Support Center CIO Rick Thomas is searching for ways to use IT to improve the quality of services his organization provides to soldiers and their families.

Although President Bush next week will ask Congress for $401.7 billion in fiscal 2005 to fund the military, a 7% increase over a year ago, the Defense Department will have no shortage of ways to spend that money as the country continues its campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, and on the home front. As he looks to another year of the military operating on high alert, US Army Community and Family Support Center CIO Rick Thomas is searching for ways to use IT to improve the quality of services his organization provides to soldiers and their families.

From his station on the IT side of the military, Thomas is responsible for creating a well-oiled IT operation that manages the Community and Family Support Center's labor pool, financials, inventory, golf courses, bowling alleys, and youth services. Established by the Department of the Army in 1984, the Community and Family Support Center provides oversight for Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation operations worldwide.

"We support a very important support organization," he says. "Especially now that we have so many soldiers deployed. Their families are looking for support, and we want to be there."

Thomas found one of his most-effective tools for managing the Community and Family Support Center in enterprise architecture software. Such software lets an IT organization develop a consistent set of processes for testing and implementing new technology. "We have proven that when you use the methodology, you save time and money," says Thomas, a 26-year veteran of the Navy who retired in 1994 as a commander.

The Center, which since 2000 has been using Popkin Software's System Architect to support its enterprise architecture objectives, is now looking to centralize its databases and put as many end-user apps on the Web as possible. Popkin next week will introduce new features that improve System Architect's visualization and Web-publishing capabilities.

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