The $164 million question

Navy Marine Corps Intranet user — come on down! You will get to answer questions that could be worth $164 million.

In an unusual move for government, a user survey will determine whether EDS gets a $164 million customer satisfaction incentive — money that would be above and beyond the $6.9 billion base value for the eight-year contract.

Navy officials see the customer satisfaction incentive as an innovative provision of the NMCI contract because it will encourage the NMCI Information Strike Force, the EDS-led group of vendors rolling out NMCI, to focus on a key metric: How satisfied are the people using the NMCI infrastructure?

NMCI is the Navy's effort to create an enterprisewide network across its shore-based sites, encompassing more than 400,000 seats. Navy officials said that they included the significant customer satisfaction incentive as a way to motivate the NMCI Information Strike Force.

Customer satisfaction plays an important role in many desktop outsourcing efforts, such as the General Services Administration's Seat Management and the Outsourcing the Desktop Initiative for NASA (ODIN) contracts.

Karen Smith, acting ODIN program manager, said that the ODIN contracts let the NASA centers establish what customer-satisfaction level the vendors must meet. The centers have set the goal at anything from 90 percent to 98 percent, she said. The actual satisfaction levels are then determined by a survey of users, primarily those who either have problems or use the help desk. NASA withholds a percentage of the overall contract payment and then reimburses the vendor once the performance level is met, she said.

Meanwhile, GSA's Seat Management contracts enable the agency to determine the role customers will play, said Mickey Femino, director of the GSA Federal Technology Service's Center for Innovative Business Solutions.

The Navy decided to make the customer-satisfaction incentive large enough to encourage improved performance, said Edward Schmitz, the lead for information technology performance measurement for the Navy's Office of the Chief Information Officer, in a briefing with reporters March 5. Therefore, EDS can clearly see a return on investments. For example, the company may decide to add people to its help desks as part of an effort to reap more of the incentive.

Customer satisfaction will be tallied quarterly using an online survey that will go to about one-quarter of NMCI's users. Within a year, every NMCI user will be surveyed, Schmitz said.

Navy and EDS officials are still working on the survey questions and negotiating how those questions will be weighted to determine an overall grade, he said.

The incentive tied to the customer satisfaction survey is up to $100 per seat per quarter for what will be 411,000 seats across the Navy's shore-based operations.

EDS would get the full $100 per seat if it scores better than 95 percent in customer satisfaction; $50 per seat if it scores better than 90 percent; and $25 per seat if it scores better than 85 percent.

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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