Meet EDS' download enforcer

Before a knee injury ended his promising football career, Rick Rosenburg butted heads with rivals on the field. Now that he's leading Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s Navy Marine Corps Intranet initiative, he's butting heads with a different group of people.

Much of the grass-roots resistance to NMCI comes from users who have formed an emotional attachment to the system they use and cannot bear the thought of someone else dictating what hardware and software systems they will run, Rosenburg said while attending the Navy's Connecting Technology conference in Virginia Beach, Va., this week.

EDS has assumed responsibility for 42,000 Navy users at 29 sites and eventually will serve 360,000 shore-based Marine Corps and Navy personnel through the $6.9 billion outsourcing program.

With deployment begun, Rosenburg is seeing widespread violations of Navy Department security policy, including users downloading music and instant messaging and tax software programs to run on a networked PC without permission.

But Rosenburg, EDS's program executive for NMCI, said he doesn't mind being the "bad cop" who has to start enforcing an unpopular law: Department users will not be able to do FTP downloads of software. Users will have to make a formal effort to use anything that is not among EDS' approved software.

Rosenburg downplayed some of the obstacles EDS faces. When asked if it's difficult to supervise a contracting team of 1,200 — 75 percent of which is small-business personnel — Rosenburg replied, "We do that all the time," evoking images of EDS' famous cat-herder commercial.

EDS also has had to step gingerly around the issue of remote access, charging extra for NMCI users who want to access their accounts from home and requiring them to use the Defense Department's Common Access Card to verify their identities.

The first 42,000 users under NMCI will start using the program's Dell Computer Corp. PCs with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating system and applications within the next two months.

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