Navy to seek NMCI leader

AFCEA's Washington, D.C., chapter

The Navy's massive effort to outsource its shore-based information technology infrastructure is struggling because it lacks a single point person to spearhead the project, Navy Secretary Gordon England said, and the Navy will be looking for just such a leader.

"There are some programs that are very difficult to do in Washington, particularly programs that touch different agencies, people with a lot of vested interests," England said during a speech before the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Washington, D.C., chapter Jan. 8.

In the corporate world, the chief executive officer of the organization speaks for that organization, makes decisions for that organization, and ultimately is held responsible for the performance of that organization, he said.

"In government, nobody has absolute authority like a CEO does in a company," England said.

"I do not believe you can take a program like [the Navy Marine Corps Intranet] and meet all your objectives, without one single person being the person responsible for decisions day after day on the program," he said. "So we're struggling on NMCI and I think it is a systemic problem we have that is hard to deal with, but we're working it."

England's comments come in the wake of the approval of the fiscal 2002 Defense authorization bill, which calls on England to appoint a program manager whose "sole responsibility is to direct and oversee the program."

Senior Navy officials said that England's comments were in reference to that provision of the DOD authorization bill. Yet many observers are also skeptical that there would be a single person responsible for making all decisions about NMCI, which would seemingly necessitate that Congress, the Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon give up some oversight authority.

When asked if NMCI will be a model for other similar projects, England said, "It's not the model. I think we're probably paving the way for the model."

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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