Weldon: Scale back NMCI testing

Don't treat the Navy Marine Corps Intranet like a weapons system.

That's the message Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Military Readiness Subcommittee, sent to the Defense Department last month.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Weldon asked that "cost-effective" test and evaluation practices be used to measure NMCI to avoid "unnecessarily extending the certifications process."

Before NMCI contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. receives the go-ahead to expand its NMCI deployment above the current limit of 15 percent of Navy personnel for fiscal 2002, Congress has to receive a Naval operational test and evaluation report on the initial deployment.

If the Navy were to test NMCI as it tests weapons systems, contractor personnel would not be present during testing, said Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, a Navy Department deputy program executive officer for information technology. Such a condition wouldn't work because NMCI cannot exist without EDS operating the help desk and networks, he said.

EDS is still negotiating with the Navy the terms and price of the operational test and evaluation, Rick Rosenburg, EDS' NMCI program executive, said this month at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association TechNet conference.

The Navy's operational test and evaluation was to take place in August and September, but some EDS and Navy officials are concerned that the process could drag on until February 2002 if NMCI is treated to the same testing process as a new weapons system.

EDS and the Navy are concerned that operational test and evaluation could be expanded to include individual assessments of the thousands of legacy applications that EDS will connect to NMCI, according to an EDS official, who spoke without attribution.

In his Rumsfeld letter, Weldon pointed out that as the former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Research and Development Subcommittee, he's familiar with the operations, test and evaluation requirements for new military platforms. "With NMCI, the Navy is receiving nondevelopmental communications and computer infrastructure," he wrote in his letter.

Weldon pointed out that NMCI has service-level agreements that "provide robust ongoing visibility of performance and appropriate incentives for the contractor and the Navy to maintain a rigorous view of performance requirements."

A Navy headquarters spokeswoman did not return phone calls seeking comment from the Navy's operational test and evaluation community.

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