NMCI Testing, Part II

Some Pentagon and Navy officials are clearly sensitive about the seemingly unending discussion about the testing of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. The Interceptor received critical e-mails regarding his Jan. 21 item noting that despite an agreement on how to proceed with NMCI testing, how much testing should occur is still unresolved.

At issue is the "stress test" that NMCI must endure once 85 percent of the seats have been rolled out. But the agreement fails to define stress testing. Defense Department chief information officer John Stenbit has said only that he wants to push NMCI to the breaking point.

In spite of the testy e-mails, when questioned further, officials acknowledge that the issue of what constitutes stress testing is still, in fact, unresolved.

Meanwhile, Steven Ehrler, executive director of the Navy's Information Technology Program Executive Office, said that the Navy's per-seat cost under the NMCI contract is nearly half of its initial projections. The average cost of a typical PC under the NMCI contract, minus amortized costs, is about $2,000 per seat each year, Ehrler said. The Navy's early cost projections were about $4,000 per seat each year.

Deepwater Revs Up

The Coast Guard's Deepwater program is filling its sails. The agency has accelerated development of a virtual office that will help officials manage the program, Coast Guard officials said last week at E-Gov's electronic-procurement conference.

In fact, senior managers began training on the new computer and networking system on Jan. 31, said Greg.ory Giddens, Deepwater's deputy program executive officer.

Deepwater is a multibillion-dollar procurement effort for the replacement of 90 ships, 200 aircraft and the systems that connect them. The Coast Guard will award a performance-based contract to a systems integrator sometime between April and June, Giddens said.

Three industry teams — Boeing Co. with subcontractors and two joint ventures — are vying for the prize.

Deepwater received $320 million in funding for fiscal 2002. "We see positive things happening for the Coast Guard," Giddens said. "We certainly think the funding level we got is sustainable."

Still, expect a battle over the discretionary fund within the Transportation Department, which "is not huge," he said. "It's a tough neighborhood to fight in. It's going to be an interesting ride."

Stop the Presses

Here's something you don't see very often: a General Accounting Office report that actually praises DOD for doing what it's supposed to be doing.

The Jan. 28 report says DOD is on target to meet a congressional requirement to track purchases of information technology products and services.

The DOD fiscal 2001 authorization bill required the department to collect specific procurement data on its purchases of IT products and services beginning Oct. 30, 2001. That data includes which products or services are purchased and for how much, whether they are commercial items and how the purchases were completed. The data will also show how much vendor competition was involved.

For the GAO we all know and love, see the next item.

SPS Reunion

A hearing on DOD's troubled Standard Procurement System has been rescheduled for this week.

DOD officials are expected to respond to an unusually critical GAO report that stated in part, "DOD's management of SPS is a lesson in how not to justify, make and monitor the implementation of [IT] investment decisions."

SPS is meant to automate the often complex process that Pentagon procurement officials use to buy $130 billion in goods and services each year. The system was scheduled to be rolled out in March 2000, but has been plagued by delays.

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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, 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,, 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, 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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