Navy tardy in Web-enabling apps
- By Bill Murray
- Nov 15, 2000
The Navy has been slow in transferring its applications to the World Wide
Web, according to a former Pacific Fleet commander, who said the service
also trails industry in remaking its business practices to save money and
"Why is the Navy still paying for client/server technology?" said Archie
Clemins, an admiral who retired last December after pushing for the Navy
to modernize during his final years of active duty. As far as he knows,
"the Navy is not developing a single Web-based or Web-enhanced database,"
Clemins said Tuesday while speaking at the Navy's Connecting Technology
conference in San Diego.
"There are places for client/server architecture, but let me tell you,
they're getting smaller every day," Clemins added.
While head of Pacific Fleet, Clemins wanted the Navy to take chances
and use his "Information Technology for the 21st Century" program for installing
Asynchronous Transfer Mode networking and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT Workstation
4.0 aboard ships.
His penchant for risk-taking is reflected in his current job: Clemins
is president and chief operating officer of Bot Inc., a start-up that employs
six people at its Seattle headquarters and 60 software programmers in Krakow,
Poland, in part because of the low job turnover rate there.
Adm. Vern Clark, the service's chief of naval operations, has called
on the Navy to Web-enable its applications by 2003. Clemins, however, said
that transition represents just one part of the revolution in military affairs.
The service could save billions of dollars if it implemented a supply
model similar to those of Dell Computer Corp. or Wal-Mart, in which suppliers
stock products and deliver them only as needed, according to Clemins. "Any
vendor that does business with Dell must be able to deliver to Dell within
90 minutes of an order" being placed, he said.
Clemins also said the Navy could save $3.75 billion by not replacing
50,000 of its 75,000 civilian workers eligible to retire within five years.
That money could then be used on information technology and other programs,
He downplayed the resulting loss of institutional knowledge from those
retired workers by noting that when he turned 50 years old, 85 percent of
what he knew consisted of concepts and facts that didn't exist when his
mother was 50.
If the Navy wants to compete with industry for young IT workers, it
must also modernize its facilities, Clemins said. At present, too many Navy
personnel work on bases that look like industrial facilities where he "wouldn't
keep a horse," he said.