Letter to the editor

I am disappointed in the coverage of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract. Rather than engaging in a little investigative reporting or critical analysis, the media seem content to publish public relations materials issued by EDS or the NMCI program office as if it were news.

For instance, it wouldn't be hard to learn that at those locations where NMCI has been implemented, virtually no added value has been provided to Navy workers and in many cases, a new NMCI workstation sits unused on a desk while workers continue to use their old PCs that are connected to real systems.

You might discover that the network operations centers, which were opened with great fanfare nearly a year ago, are performing no useful function today. Or that NMCI sites are continuing to use the same network connectivity and computing processes in place before NMCI was ever conceived.

Some critical analysis might note that a "kiosk system" ["NMCI apps placed on fast track"] will never be a workable solution for legacy applications, which includes all applications other than office automation. With 30,000 to 70,000 legacy applications identified thus far, exactly how many and where will these kiosks reside and who will control the lines of people waiting to use them?

Of course, the Navy has solved this problem by directing a "95 percent reduction in legacy applications within one year"? Outside of the Rick Rosenberg/Chris Christopher public relations machine, almost no one thinks NMCI is a good idea or even necessary. (Rick Rosenburg is the NMCI program executive for EDS and Capt. Chris Christopher is deputy director of plans, policy and oversight at NMCI.) The four NMCI management reorganizations since the program began are signs of a project gone awry.

The contract is grossly behind schedule and not delivering the desired functionality where implemented. It was obvious from the bidding process that EDS low-balled the contract (significantly under all other bids and the Navy's estimate) and intended to make profits elsewhere (legacy applications?).

NMCI has consumed the attention and resources of the Navy for the last two years. The Navy and EDS would be best served if they recognize what NMCI is and is not. It is an office automation contract supporting e-mail, Microsoft Corp. Word and other Microsoft desktop functions.

It is not, and will never be, the Navy's complete information technology solution. Once this is acknowledged, Navy sites should be permitted to procure the parts of NMCI that benefit them rather than having their entire IT budget stolen by the program office with a vague promise that the contract will satisfy all requirements. And the media should stop writing fashion reviews on the emperor's new clothes.

Name withheld by request


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