NMCI passes first tests

Tests of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet revealed some initial start-up problems, but they did not raise any significant operational concerns, the Navy official overseeing the testing process said in the first public comments on the tests.

NMCI "eventually passed" all of the 69 contractor tests and evaluations (CT&Es) at its first site at the Naval Air Facility, located at Andrews Air Force Base in the Washington, D.C., area, Cmdr. Dan Corbin, the Navy's CT&E director, said March 14.

The testing process is critical to the long-term success of NMCI, the Navy's $6.9 billion effort to create an enterprise network for its shore-based facilities. Under a September 2001 agreement between Navy officials and John Stenbit, the Defense Department's chief information officer, NMCI's initial sites must pass tests before the initiative can be rolled out to other sites.

The testing, however, is only one part of Stenbit's final assessment. The government is conducting tests in other areas as well, such as security.

NMCI is a performance-based contract, and EDS, the lead contractor, must meet service levels specified in the contract, noted Capt. Chris Christopher, deputy program executive officer for information technology at the Navy Department.

The testing at the Naval Air Facility — which began Jan. 14 and ended Feb. 1 — did uncover some problems, Corbin said, but they were problems normally associated with starting up a new network. Some of the printers were not matched correctly or applications were not linked to the server containing the proper data, he said.

EDS officials said they were pleased with the testing results so far. "We are successfully meeting our testing objectives as expected," said Rick Rosenburg, NMCI program executive for EDS, in a statement. "We are very confident in our abilities. The test results will continue to show that NMCI will be successful."

The testing seeks to focus on the applications and processes people use to actually do their jobs.

When EDS rolls out seats, it randomly selects certain seats. EDS then creates a scenario that would test all of the applications the employee at the seat needs to do his or her job, Corbin said. For example, if the employee would need to order a part, the scenario would test all the steps necessary for ordering that part.

The testing has also been modified somewhat based on recommendations from Pentagon officials, Corbin said. Many of the current scenarios focus on how individual PCs work. Officials from Stenbit's office also recommended testing the overall mission of the site and its ability to provide interoperability across DOD.

EDS has rolled out about 1,200 seats of the approximately 4,000 seats that must be readied before NMCI can reach its first milestone.

Other sites that must undergo the testing include the 2,500 seats at the Naval Air Reserve Center in Lemoore, Calif., and 1,000 seats at the Naval Air Systems Command at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Md.

Navy officials said that testing in Lemoore could conclude by the end of March, and testing at the Naval Air Station could finish by the end of April.

If Stenbit signs off on NMCI's first milestone, it would enable the Navy to order an additional 100,000 seats.

The heart of the testing process is whether EDS can determine if something is not working, whether EDS and the Navy can find the reason for the problem and whether EDS can fix the problems once they are discovered, Christopher said.

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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