Navy office to curb portal development

Although already in the midst of a multibillion-dollar effort to create a servicewide network and eliminate more than 100,000 redundant applications, the Navy is taking on a new target: Web portals.

Officials plan to create an office to manage Web portals that have sprung up throughout the service, similar to the way the Navy Marine Corps Intranet team manages the service's desktop computers and networks, said David Wennergren, the Navy Department's chief information officer.

The issue is especially important as the Defense Department moves toward network-centric operations, which are at the heart of DOD's transformation efforts and stress the quick posting of data. But if that data is lost in a sea of portals, it would be almost useless.

"Just as we have tens of thousands of legacy applications, we have hundreds of portals," Wennergren said at the National Industrial Association's NMCI conference in New Orleans. "We want you to be able to find whatever enterprise knowledge you need from wherever you are, all through one enterprise portal environment."

As a result, the Navy will slash the number of portals across the service. Officials want to all but halt the creation of specialized, niche and customized portals, which tend to grow at the expense of sites that benefit the entire agency, Wennergren said.

"We are going to worry about content, not customization," he said. "If I'm school 'X' in Newport, R.I., I probably don't need a whole new portal but should focus on providing value-added content to the existing portal environment."

The Navy's decision to bring the portals under control is a good first step, said Bob Carter, director of the public sector for Plumtree Software Inc.

"I think it's going to be a huge challenge because from a tech standpoint, there have been a lot of standards kicked around," Carter said. "Governance is going to be the real issue here. This is going to require executive sponsorship, and it looks like the Navy is getting just that from the CIO's office."

The Navy is among the first federal agencies to try to tackle the portal proliferation, but several states have already undertaken similar initiatives.

Rock Regan, Connecticut's CIO, said the state has worked on the problem for about 18 months. He anticipates it will be an ongoing issue. "It became a problem of lack of control — who owns the data, who's responsible for it," he said.

"But the Navy's issue is orders of magnitude different from what we dealt with because of size," Regan added. "We still aren't done, because this is a never-ending process."

Col. Rob Baker, the Marine Corps' director of command, control, communications and computers, said the service is going to look at what works. "If you have a good portal out there, you don't have to be afraid that it's going to go away," Baker said.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group