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This Electronic Health Record's Cost Has Jumped 2,233 Percent

By Bob Brewin // March 27, 2014

Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock.com

Costing 2,233 percent more than originally estimated, the Defense Health Agency’s electronic health record -- designed to be used in combat -- leads a motley pack of major Defense Department automated information systems whose costs have soared by mind-boggling percentages into the billions of dollars, according to government report.

The Theater Medical Information Program - Joint (TMIP-J), Increment 2, was supposed to cost $67.7 million in November 2002 but soared to $1.58 billion as of December 2013, the Government Accountability Office said in the 100 page report.

Program officials attributed the cost increase to the addition of capabilities originally intended to be included in a future increment, new requirements necessary to meet the needs of the warfighter, and the inclusion of operations and maintenance costs, GAO said.

It’s worth noting that the current cost of the field EHR system alone is equal to the $1.5 billion the Pentagon has budgeted for an EHR to serve 57 hospitals, 364 medical clinics, 282 dental clinics, 225 vet clinics as well as deployed forces and 321 ships by 2019.

The Marine Corps version of the Global Combat Support System ranked second on the GAO list, up 302 percent from an ...

Good News: Army Chiefs Plan ‘Smart’ Civilian Workforce Reduction

By Bob Brewin // March 25, 2014

Army Secretary John McHugh, left, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno testified on Capitol Hill last year.
Army Secretary John McHugh, left, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno testified on Capitol Hill last year. // J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee today that the service’s civilian workforce will drop to 263,000 at the end of fiscal 2015, a drop of 22,000 from its Afghanistan and Iraq war high of 285,000.

McHugh and Odierno said “we will do it smartly, focusing on preserving the most important capabilities. This requires a broader strategy that links functions, funding and manpower to produce the desired civilian workforce of the future—one that fully supports the generation of trained and ready combat units.” 

They also plan to fire up “all available workforce shaping tools such as Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay to reduce turbulence in our civilian workforce.”

So far so good….we all hate dumb, willy-nilly workforce reductions done without shaping tools.

Here’s the bad news….

“We will target the skills we need to retain, and voluntarily separate those with skills no longer needed. If we cannot achieve our Army Civilian reduction goals by voluntary means, we will use Reduction in Force as a last resort,” McHugh and Odierno said.

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The POTUS Wireless Ecosystem

By Bob Brewin // March 21, 2014

Barack Obama holds an iPad at an event at a Maryland school in February.
Barack Obama holds an iPad at an event at a Maryland school in February. // Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The White House Communications Agency has a “Presidential Communications Vision 2020” that includes developing a “wireless ecosystem” so the president of the United States can communicate “anywhere, anytime, by any means with anyone in the world.”

Alas, not much detailed info on all this, except for a few facts that the wireless ecosystem will be embedded into systems to support presidential trips and includes secure Wi-Fi and cellular service as well as newfangled, super secure mobile hardware – and we have a president right now who loves mobile gadgets.

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Here Comes the milCloud

By Bob Brewin // March 20, 2014

winui/Shutterstock.com

The Defense Information Systems Agency launched a new cloud computing service for the Defense Department dubbed milCloud.

The service will save money and offer flexibility for Defense users, DISA said, and its description comes with enough buzzwords for an evening of bingo.

Keep in mind that when it comes to cloud service, DISA is just like any other vendor trying to sell services to Defense users under a 2012 congressional mandate to consider commercial providers.

Last month the Marines signaled they may use a commercial vendor rather than DISA to host their version of the Global Combat Support System.

In an era where “branding” is all important, DISA has hit a home run with the milCloud thing, and I suggest the agency trademark it before someone else grabs it.

(Image via winui/Shutterstock.com)

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I’ll Pass on the Medical Grass to Treat PTSD

By Bob Brewin // March 18, 2014

Marijuana grown for medical purposes is shown inside a greenhouse at a farm in Potter Valley, Calif.
Marijuana grown for medical purposes is shown inside a greenhouse at a farm in Potter Valley, Calif. // Eric Risberg/AP File Photo

When I left the Marine Corps in 1967, I decided to treat my combat stress with copious amounts of alcohol backed up by the drugs of the times, including marijuana, with an eye toward short-term relief.

A decade later, booze and drugs had become my way of life – instead of bridges over its problems, including combat stress.

I had to let all those substances go and find what I still consider the best kind of help for my problems then and now – talking therapy with those who have been there, done that, and managed to come out the other side free and alive.

Today a new crop of veterans is told that medical marijuana could be the key to resolving their PTSD problems, with a federal green light for new study announced this week.

New Mexico, where I live, has fully embraced the medical marijuana PTSD cure – which I don’t quite understand. 

Illegal marijuana did no good – and in fact worsened – my combat stress in the 60s and 70s.  How does linguistic sleight of hand in 2014 change anything, except to make it easier to get stoned with “medical” rather than street grass?

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