Navy chief confident on NMCI

Navy Secretary Gordon England said he remains steadfastly in support of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet and said the project must overcome the recent holdup over the level of testing it must undergo.

"We're determined to continue," England said Aug. 13.

"While there are hurdles and issues and concerns, there are a lot of people like myself who know we have to make this successful, and we're working hard every day to make sure that happens," the Navy secretary said following a speech at the Naval-Industry R&D Partnership Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

"It will be successful," he added.

Officials from the Navy, the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget have had ongoing discussions about the testing issue, which England said is the project's biggest hurdle right now. However, he said he is increasingly sure there will be an adequate resolution.

NMCI is the Navy's effort to outsource its information technology infrastructure, with Electronic Data Systems Corp. as the prime contractor. Lawmakers gave the Navy the go-ahead for NMCI, but they stipulated a "strategic pause" at 15 percent of the seats covered by the contract, or about 42,000 desktops.

The Navy is looking to move beyond that strategic pause. But Congress said that the Defense Department chief information officer must sign off on NMCI before it can proceed. Pentagon officials have been pushing for a more extensive testing regiment.

If the issue is not resolved by the end of the fiscal year, the Navy will have to pay EDS even if the company is not allowed to roll out seats. That could cost the Navy as much as $728 million in fiscal 2002.

Meanwhile, England told the conference that he supports the Defense Department's effort to increase spending on research and development in science and technology to 3 percent of the total DOD budget.

However, he said that the money must be used to develop future capabilities and not simply fix existing problems. Furthermore, the money needs to go to engineers and scientists and not be consumed by overhead.

The Navy must also work to ensure that it spends its scarce resources to augment work going on in the commercial sector, not compete with it.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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