DOD outlines phased testing for NMCI

After months of negotiations, Pentagon and Navy officials have crafted an agreement to provide conditional approval for the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet to proceed.

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

The Navy and the Pentagon have been at loggerheads regarding the level of testing required to validate NMCI. The four-page memo, obtained by Federal Computer Week, lays out the criteria for the incremental rollout and testing of NMCI during the next two years.

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

DOD and Navy officials, pending congressional review of the agreement, were unavailable for comment.

The agreement seeks to let the Navy move forward with outsourcing its information technology infrastructure to lead vendor Electronic Data Systems Corp., and it lays parameters for the DOD CIO to conduct reviews at specific milestones before the project proceeds.

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," DOD officials said in a statement.

The agreement lets the Navy roll out 60,000 seats before the Pentagon certifies NMCI and details the testing process the project must undergo at each stage of the rollout.

When 85 percent of the seats have been delivered, DOD officials will test "the system to determine if the NMCI can meet the performance requirements," the memo says. That test will be completed in fiscal 2003, before the Navy can exercise contract options with EDS.

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

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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