Navy takes new shot at NMCI metrics

Navy's NMCI Web site

Navy officials are rewriting portions of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract to phase out some provisions that have delayed efforts to build and attract users to the network, service officials said last week.

The contract for NMCI, the Navy's massive initiative to create a single enterprise network at about 400 shore-based sites, is built on service-level agreements (SLAs) — specific tasks that the lead contractor, EDS, must perform in order to receive financial compensation. Each SLA outlines metrics or parameters covering everything from network throughput to help-desk response time.

Navy and Marine Corps officials recently decided that too many SLAs were bogging down the contract. They said it was difficult to focus on building and populating the network when more than 240 parameters had to be followed, said NMCI Director Navy Rear Adm. Charles Munns.

"In the last two and a half months, we have worked with the Navy and Marine Corps team to reduce the total number to about eight SLAs and 30 parameters," Munns said. "Depending on how you looked at it, we had 44 SLAs and 240 parameters to fit."

Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI's staff director, said the contractors erred on the side of caution by loading the contract with SLAs. Officials later discovered that many of those agreements were too narrowly focused and didn't allow for the larger project to progress as planned.

"We are going to have fewer SLAs, but they're going to have a greater effect and be more measurable," Christopher said.

He said he did not know which SLAs are slated for elimination or whether there is a specific target.

Christopher gave examples of services that do not need such intense scrutiny. E-mail, for instance, is a key component of NMCI. The SLAs in place were being used to measure how long it took for a message to travel from a sender's computer to a server, from that server to a network operation center, from that center to a different center, from there to another server and finally to the recipient.

EDS spokesman Kevin Clarke said it is too early for company officials to comment on the proposed changes, given that nothing has been finalized. He added that they agree with the goal of improving user experience and honing the program's focus.

Munns said the financial aspects of the contract could remain largely unchanged. EDS receives only 85 percent of the seat price until service levels are achieved. Fewer SLAs could make it easier for EDS officials to collect money, but it will also make it easier for the company to focus on providing service.

"The end goal here is to get to 100 percent cutover and 100 percent of the service levels fulfilled," Munns said. "Reducing SLAs will make it easier to focus and get that done, so EDS can get its financial reward and the Navy will have its operational network."

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