NMCI testing agreement reached

The Pentagon and the Navy have concluded months of discussions with an agreement that gives the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet conditional approval to move forward.

Following a week of last-minute haggling, John Stenbit, Defense Department chief information officer, and Michael Wynne, deputy undersecretary for Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, officially signed off on the NMCI decision memorandum Sept. 5.

The Navy and the Pentagon have been at loggerheads over the level of testing required for NMCI to move forward. The four-page memorandum, obtained by Federal Computer Week, lays out a phased approach to NMCI's rollout.

The agreement seeks to let the Navy move forward with outsourcing its information technology infrastructure to Electronic Data Systems Corp., and it sets a timetable for the DOD CIO to conduct reviews of specific milestones before the project can move further along.

The Defense Department said that the memorandum "authorizes the Department of Navy to proceed with the revised phased implementation of the NMCI project, subject to the test evaluation events and the [Office of the Secretary of Defense] senior-level reviews laid out in the memorandum."

The agreement increases the number of seats from about 42,000 to about 60,000 that the Navy can order before the Pentagon must certify NMCI.

Under the agreement, the DOD CIO will spearhead an independent review of NMCI's test and evaluation efforts to ensure those tests are "viable," the document says. That team will begin immediately and will examine the Navy's operational and business processes, joint interoperability and information assurance testing and will assess NMCI's customer test and evaluation.

Congress approved NMCI on the condition that the Navy institute a "strategic pause" after rolling out a percentage of desktops. Congress then required that Pentagon officials certify the program before it could proceed.

The Pentagon is "in discussions with Congress to gain support for the new strategy, and determine what changes, if any, are required in the law."

Navy and Pentagon officials have been seeking a strategy for months that would let NMCI move forward while addressing the Pentagon's concerns that the project should prove itself first. This agreement seeks to resolve that issue.

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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