Twenty-nine companies have now volunteered the time and manpower it will take to fix major flaws in the operation of Arlington National Cemetery.
Bobbie Kilberg, President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, told Federal News Radio those 29 companies are made up of “21 who have agreed to be on an assessment team and an additional 8 who stand ready to help with additional tasks,” as needed to figure out the thousands of burial records at Arlington National Cemetery that are in disarray.
The NVTC will provide a “written assessment report of the information technology requirements that are needed to rectify the totally unacceptable state of the records at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Kilberg.
After the group held a three hour meeting at Arlington National Cemetary yesterday, Kilberg said “we, I think now, are beginning to get a feel and understanding of what the issues are.”
As they sort through the issues, the plan is to make a list of the problems and what would need to be done to rectify those.
The Army will review the issues, add to them as needed, and then the NVTC will really begin to roll up their sleeves to figure out what can be done to sort through the mess.
We cannot actually go in and rectify it. That’s another process that then will have to be looked at and the Army will have to determine how they’re going to do that. But the most important and crucial part, which is an assessment of the IT requirements we can do on a pro bono basis and that’s what we’re doing.
The goal is clear enough, said Kilberg. “Everybody’s dedicated to the same goal which is to be sure with 100% confidence and accuracy that we know where everyone is who is buried at Arlington and that one can access those records in a digitized manner both for the families for the public that comes through Arlington as well each year.”
But that’s not the case now.
At this point, the group also doesn’t know if any of the work, and millions of dollars paid to contractors, to digitize the records can be used. “We do not know, but we will know within a week or two,” Kiberg said with confidence.
Kilberg said the group is dedicated to doing something about the problems at Arlington and to make things right, but with a sense of balance.
I think there is both a sense of urgency and an equally important sense of getting it right, and one of the things we decided yesterday is that we’re not going to force a timeline. We are going to take a look at the issues and then we will present a timeline to the Army and they want a timeline. We all, obviously, would like this to be done sooner rather than later, but we need to combine urgency with accuracy.
At this point, said Kilberg, they’ll will move “with all good speed.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.