Reserves push NMCI 'light seat'

Naval Reserve Force officials are gung-ho about seat management, but they just don't see themselves fitting into any of the three options the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract offers for desktop services.

The Naval Reserve Force is asking NMCI contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. to add a "light seat" contract line item that would enable reservists to gain remote access to .mil domains from their homes, said Capt. Martin Menez, the Reserve Force's chief information officer.

To win the $6.9 billion contract, EDS focused on providing an "80 percent solution" to meet active-duty needs, Menez said. But meeting the needs of reservists—who comprise 20 percent of the Navy's military personnel—is another matter.

Reservists want a stripped-down version of a seat management contract, "instead of being offered a bunch of service offerings...that [don't] fit our needs" at a higher price, he said.

The vast majority of the Navy's 80,000 reservists serve two days a month, with an additional two weeks of duty per year.

Reservists use Navy systems and need help-desk support on the weekends, when many active-duty sailors are off duty, said H. Lee Buchanan, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition and a captain in the Naval Reserves. "When it gets used the most, there's no help desk," he said.

This month, the Reserves should come up with technical specifications for their proposed light seat, which will try to balance the need for functionality—like remote access—and tight security, Menez said.

"It's been an education process. I don't think EDS understands how reservists function," he said.

"This particular issue hasn't been resolved, but we're certainly taking a look at it and entertaining it," said Chris Grey, an EDS spokesman. He agreed with Menez that NMCI meets about 80 percent of the Navy's needs and that some adjustments may be made to meet the remaining 20 percent.

Despite the lack of resolution, EDS took over systems management last week at the Reserves' Naval Air Systems Command facility at Andrews Air Force Base, which includes several hundred seats.

The reservists at Andrews will continue to get help-desk support from New Orleans, where the organization that maintains the Naval Reserves' tactical networks is located. EDS also assumed responsibilities for those systems last week.

The Naval Reserve will complete its move to NMCI by 2003.

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