Pentagon CIO wants NMCI proof

The Navy Marine Corps Intranet could be a way to create a more network-centric Defense Department, the DOD chief information officer said, but he stressed that the concept of creating a single technology infrastructure has yet to be proven in practice.

"If NMCI succeeds, it is a big step forward in network-centricity," said John Stenbit, DOD's assistant secretary of command, control, communications and intelligence and the department's CIO. NMCI would create a central network, improve collaboration and provide additional security, all of which align with Stenbit's top priorities.

"If it happens, that would be great," Stenbit said Dec. 14 at a breakfast presentation sponsored by Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., consulting firm.

NMCI is a revolution in how the Navy does business, in technology and in contracting, Stenbit said. But he again stressed that the NMCI concept has not been proven.

In a discussion following his presentation, Stenbit said that NMCI will have to be fully stress tested on an operational network before he will give his approval.

Pentagon and Navy officials signed an acquisition decision memorandum in September that outlines the testing procedure and the Pentagon's oversight. The new deal uses a step-by-step approach, allowing the Navy to proceed with NMCI but designating specific points at which the Pentagon will review testing results before the project can continue.

When 85 percent of NMCI has been rolled out, the Navy will conduct a "stress test of the system to determine if [NMCI] can meet the performance requirements." The Navy should complete that test before the three option years are exercised.

The specifics of the stress test, however, are unclear. Stenbit suggested that the Navy and Electronic Data Systems Corp., which is spearheading the $6.9 billion NMCI initiative, would have to test the network "to the point of failure," a comment that surprised some EDS officials.

The fiscal 2002 Defense authorization bill, which was approved by Congress Dec. 13, gives Stenbit full review authority over NMCI and follows some of the language of the DOD/Navy testing agreement.

Furthermore, it requires that the Navy appoint a "single NMCI manager" whose sole responsibility will be managing the project.

NMCI is the Navy's effort to create a single network that will be operated by the NMCI Information Strike Force, a team of companies led by EDS.

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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