Letters to the editor

Bias in the Formula

I read the June 12 FCW.com article "Homeland formula for failure ID'd." Having known Eileen Preisser as a co-worker in her previous work assignment, I was not surprised by her silver-bullet solution of big business management and advanced information technology as the formula for success in homeland security information management. She is certainly entitled to her opinion.

What I take great exception to is her statement, "If you hire a 65-year-old to do it, it will fail. If you hire former military, it will fail." I am appalled that a senior government official in the year 2002 would feel comfortable expressing such bigotry in a public forum.

I won't waste your time or mine listing the numerous success stories involving America's senior citizens and veterans, but I would feel remiss if I didn't challenge Ms. Preisser's narrow view and ask that she publicly apologize for her inappropriate and biased comments.

Edward Schafer Army Land Information Warfare Activity Fort Belvoir, Va.

NMCI Counterpoint

I disagree with the nameless writer of the "NMCI disappointments" letter posted on FCW.com June 7.

As the outgoing Navy Marine Corps Intranet action officer for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, I believe I'm qualified to offer an opinion on NMCI.

As someone who has provided information technology services to more than 5,000 users afloat on an aircraft carrier and 1,200 users ashore, I originally thought NMCI was a bad idea. But after a few days of a crow's-nest review of the state of Navy IT, it became painfully clear that the Navy needs NMCI in a bad way. In fact, every complaint about why doing NMCI is so hard or why people don't like the NMCI concept is testimony that it is necessary.

The writer of "NMCI disappointments" is either uninformed about the program beyond the latest hot gossip or has chosen to ignore what has been made plainly evident.

Let's look at his points:

* No added value. This completely discounts the value of significantly improved security, guaranteed reliability and interoperability.

* Network operations centers perform no useful function today. The centers are part of the infrastructure necessary to support the first seats deployed and end-state network capacity. EDS was paid to construct and maintain them; the utilization rate now is not the Navy Department's problem.

* Kiosks. The NMCI request for proposals called for a single operating system network. Anything that won't work in a Microsoft Corp. Windows 2000 environment must be kiosked or connected via an external network connection or legacy system support. Beyond that, applications that present a significant security threat to the network are also kiosked or quarantined until they are remediated or sunsetted. Ticked off that your Navy legacy application has been kiosked? Order the correct contract line item number or call and complain to the application developer who failed to ensure that it meets basic Defense Department security requirements.

* Management reorganizations signal a project gone awry. Change in leadership signals fresh growth and new understanding of what's required to successfully implement this initiative.

* Contract is grossly behind schedule. Execution is behind the initial schedule, which was entirely too optimistic.

* NMCI is not a complete IT solution. I couldn't agree more. NMCI was never billed to be such. Instead, it will be the foundation upon which each Navy Department business community can build enterprise business solutions.

* We should be able to buy what we want. An optional approach to IT infrastructure would doom us to more flea market-like IT with hundreds of disparate networks with greatly varying degrees of security and reliability and no guaranteed interoperability.

* The entire budget was stolen by the program office. NMCI seat services funding is budgeted through and obligated by each individual claimant — not centrally by the program office. There can be no denying that consolidating an IT infrastructure through outsourcing is painful and distasteful to those who have been managing their own IT.

Vice Adm. Richard Mayo, commander of the Naval Network Warfare Command, was right on the mark: "NMCI is not about technology — it's about cultural change."

I am more convinced than ever that NMCI was the right choice. So why all the venomous letters to the editor?

Rick Rosenberg, NMCI program executive at EDS, said that negative comments from the constituents receiving service should be welcomed as an indication that real change is taking place. I sure hope there is a lot more complaining to come.

Cmdr. Steve Mackie Outgoing NMCI action officer Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

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