Munns takes NMCI helm

The Navy's multibillion-dollar outsourcing project has a new point person, representing a shift from how the service traditionally has managed the enterprisewide program.

The appointment of Rear Adm. Charles Munns as the director of the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet comes as officials turn their focus to testing the system at initial Navy sites. The testing results are critical and will help determine if NMCI is feasible and should move forward.

In his first meeting with reporters since being named to the post in February, Munns said April 2 that his appointment is an indication that NMCI has entered a new phase.

"There is a change in the path here as new leadership comes in," Munns said. "That is not to take away from the leadership that was here before. That leadership put in place an innovative contract in a very quick manner and made an award. And that's enough for any one lifetime for most folks. That's a huge accomplishment."

Now the focus is on rolling out the intranet departmentwide. "What it takes now is for somebody to come in and implement that contract," he said.

Munns is the single point of contact for the massive project. This consolidates an approach that previously gave at least seven organizations some responsibility for NMCI. And as a uniformed person leading the initiative, Munns said he should fit in well.

"Just by me wearing this uniform, I can do that better. It's not personalities. It's not talents. I'm just better aligned with the service side that has to do the hard work here," he said.

But that doesn't mean the job will be easy. Munns compared the scope of the efforts to roll out more than 400,000 NMCI seats to the Navy's efforts to fix the Year 2000 computer problem.

Although Navy officials disagree, NMCI is widely perceived as being off track. Those perceptions spurred Congress in the fiscal 2001 Defense authorization bill to require the Navy to name a single NMCI program manager.

Munns stressed that senior Navy officials firmly believe in NMCI, understand its importance and have given him the mandate to make it work.

Paul Brubaker, former Defense Department deputy chief information officer and currently the chief executive officer of Aquilent Inc., said Munns' appointment was a good move.

"This is the shot in the arm the program needs," said Brubaker, who was an NMCI advocate when at DOD.

During the briefing, Munns said that his top priority for NMCI is successfully completing the testing process. Munns said that he hoped to present the testing results to DOD officials by next month. John Stenbit, DOD's chief information officer, and Michael Wynne, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology, must sign off on the program, which would then allow the Navy to order another 100,000 seats.

The contractor tests and evaluations, a critical piece of that decision process, Munns said, have been going well at the initial three sites: the Naval Air Facility, located at Andrews Air Force Base in the Washington, D.C., area, where testing has been completed; the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, Calif., and the Naval Air Command at Patuxent River, Md., where testing is ongoing.

Munns said his second priority is reining in the Navy's legacy applications. The Navy has identified nearly 100,000 applications and has been working to refine the process to determine whether those applications will be moved to the NMCI network.

Finally, Munns said he would develop a plan for what happens after Stenbit and Wynne make their determination. "We need a specific plan by dates so commands out there know when they are going to join the NMCI network," he said.

***

Rethinking Plans

Rear Adm. Charles Munns, director of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, said that the Navy might not locate the global network operations center at the Marine base at Quantico, Va., as planned because no appropriate building is available.

The network operations centers provide mission-critical services for the Navy's new EDS-owned network, such as network management and monitoring, help-desk support, user administration and information assurance.

Six network operations centers were originally planned, but EDS decided last year that NMCI would need only four centers and two "enterprise management facilities," which are essentially mini-network operations centers.

EDS has opened centers at the Naval Station in Norfolk, Va., and at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif. The third center is under construction at Ford Island in Oahu. The Navy is seeking a site for the fourth center, Munns said, and it is likely that one of the four centers will serve at the global network operations center.

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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