This year will mark a watershed event for AFCEA International; one that we think will be very beneficial to all of our constituencies: government, military, industry and academia.
One year after surviving the year 2000 problem, computer users may be blessed with huge leaps in processing speeds and capabilities. Researchers at semiconductor manufacturers are developing new generations of chips that, in just three years, will offer 15 times as many transistors and compute several times as fast as today's models.
Central Europe's efforts to open the economy to free enterprise are dramatically affecting the electronics and telecommunications industries. Nowhere is the emerging response to free competition more crisp than in the Czech Republic. There, new commercial and military communications system advances are stimulating rapid domestic and export growth.
Federal agencies have formulated aggressive campaigns to recruit skilled employees during an era of increased need for information technology professionals. Forced to compete with private industry, these agencies are changing employment packages to lure qualified professionals into the public sector and meet departmental requirements.
The critical shortage of available technical talent has added a new wrinkle in the realm of proprietary information for corporations. Once reserved for the blueprints of jet fighter aircraft or new software programs, closely guarded secrets now include techniques used to attract the best and the brightest with education and experience in information technology sciences. In addition, the new corporate landscape is being shaped by policies and programs that encourage current employees to stay put, and congressional legislation is allowing more foreign workers to enter the U.S. work force.
Overall funding for programs in the U.S. military command, control, communications, computers and intelligence market is projected to remain relatively unchanged through fiscal year 2003, according to a new study. Spending is expected to only rise from $7.06 billion in fiscal year 1996 to $7.07 billion in fiscal year 2003. However, total funding for programs in the defensewide support systems market segment, comprising operational space systems and associated activities, is projected to rise strongly during this period.
Ready or not, the year 2000 soon will dawn over remote islands astride the international date line in the far Pacific, and what has been called the "first scheduled, non-negotiable, global disaster" will unfold, revealing which of many wildly differing year 2000 scenarios will play out. While no one can foretell which, if any, are accurate, woe to any who have failed the "due diligence test."
Despite problems in recruiting and retaining information technology personnel, nondefense agencies may actually be ahead of the private sector in becoming year 2000 compliant before the millennium begins, according to industry analysts. However, while the U.S. government has been focusing on preparing its own information technology systems and supporting compliance within critical client industries, it has been lagging in efforts to ensure that key foreign entities will achieve year 2000 compliance in time.
The Defense Department has declared war on the year 2000 problem, and it expects the campaign to end with a whimper, not a bang. Fully 95 percent of military information systems were expected to be compliant by December 31, 1998, with this number including all mission-critical elements. Department leadership is cautiously optimistic that its goals are being met, but it is hedging its bets in case some systems slip through the cracks.
Military, government and information technology professionals from the United States and 21 European countries attended the 19th Annual AFCEA TechNet Europe symposium and exposition in October to discuss the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The event provided a forum for intense dialogue on the effects of internal adaptation and restructuring of the organization as it applies to its communications and information systems requirements.