Growing Pains

The Navy's massive effort to create a single network across more than 400,000 shore-based seats may have just passed a major milestone, but the program still faces many challenges — not the least of which is from users.

Although many Navy and Marine Corps information technology staffers roll their eyes when the Navy Marine Corps Intranet is mentioned, there appears to be a growing resolution that the initiative will become a reality.

"Now we are all stuck," said Capt. Jim Gosnell, deputy chief information officer for planning and operations for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (Spawar) in San Diego.

"It's not perfect; it's what we've got," he said during a presentation at the Navy's Connecting Technology conference in Virginia Beach, Va., last week.

Most of the NMCI sessions were met with standing-room-only crowds as sites begin to realize that this will impact their operations.

Gosnell's session left some in the audience reeling as they were told of the issues faced at the early sites, which include the much-publicized problem of what to do with legacy systems.

Some, however, were shocked to realize that legacy systems that do not meet the NMCI security requirements will instead be housed on so-called kiosk systems, which are PCs on a stand-alone network separate from the NMCI network.

Tracy Conroy, Spawar's NMCI IT manager, said officials had to assess how many PCs they need to put on those kiosk systems so that staffers have the resources to do their work.

People may be resigned to the fact that NMCI is coming their way, but they clearly are not fully buying the concept.

'Joint' by Any Other Name

When the head of a big high-tech company speaks to a roomful of government officials, he is usually prepped so that he is aware of the issues facing his audience. Few, however, tell their audience about that background briefing.

That is, except for Craig Conway, PeopleSoft Inc. president and chief executive officer, who spoke at the Navy's Connecting Technology conference last week.

PeopleSoft's federal team told Conway that it was important to use the proper lingo when speaking to a Defense Department and Navy crowd. "It's all about the warfighter," the backgrounder said. "Say 'warfighter' often."

Furthermore, the briefing instructed Conway to avoid the term "collaboration," but instead emphasize "joint."

"I remember when you couldn't say 'joint,'" Conway joked.

He also acknowledged that PeopleSoft has not always taken the government market seriously. That has changed in recent years, he said; the government market now makes up more than 20 percent of its business.

Most of Conway's presentation focused on what PeopleSoft calls the "real- time enterprise" — essentially putting applications and data online. Doing so generally saves money, makes data easier to use and access, and improves productivity.

PeopleSoft software is the engine behind DOD's Defense Integrated Military Human Resource System (DIMHRS), a huge endeavor to create a single personnel and pay system.

Dare we say a joint system?

Speaking of Which...

While we're on the subject, proposals for the massive joint DOD HR system were due May 16.

DIMHRS should help the Pentagon manage personnel more effectively, especially in these days of increased joint operations. DOD officials also say it will replace the hodgepodge of 88 aging, stovepiped systems.

Three vendors would be responsible for building prototypes. The working prototype will be based on PeopleSoft's Version 8 HRMS application.

DOD hopes to have the system fully operational by the end of fiscal 2006. n

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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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