NMCI feels Appropriations bite

The Navy comes under intense criticism for its management of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet in the report language of the House appropriations bill, which passed June 28.

The fiscal 2003 DOD spending bill, H.R. 5010, trims funding for NMCI, a staff member for the House Appropriations Committee said. The cuts come out of the Navy's overall information technology budget, so NMCI will continue to be fully funded for fiscal 2003, a spokesman for lead vendor EDS said.

The cut in funding, however, is illustrative of ongoing concern by lawmakers. Specifically, the report that accompanies the spending bill includes harsh criticism of how the Navy has handled legacy applications in the implementation of NMCI.

Committee members are "concerned that this problem has limited the current state of the [NMCI] network's capabilities to such a degree that the system has significantly impacted operations," the report says.

The report further questioned the testing process that was used to certify the viability of NMCI.

"The committee believes strongly that for NMCI to ultimately succeed, progress must be at a more moderately measured pace and with far greater emphasis on understanding the network's capabilities and limitations," the report says.

NMCI, the Navy's massive effort to create a single network across more than 400,000 seats for its shore-based facilities, has been bogged down by scores of legacy applications -- at one point, the Navy tallied nearly 100,000 separate applications.

The Navy and EDS have been focused on rolling out seats. To that end, officials have sought to streamline the process used for dealing with legacy applications by putting some applications on "kiosked" networks that are separate from the enterprise NMCI network.

The House, however, is critical of that move, arguing that such a fix is an avoidance tactic. In those cases, the seats have not been cut over, but merely cut in half, the House committee report says.

The bill prohibits the Navy from ordering additional seats beyond the 160,000 that are authorized and requires Pentagon overseers to conduct further tests once 20,000 seats have been rolled out.

"The committee believes that the delay in seat orders that will result will also provide the Navy and [EDS] much-needed time to address the legacy application problems which will arise from the order of the first 160,000 seats," the committee report says.

Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI deputy director for plans, policy and operations, said the House raises good questions.

"Currently we have a robust test program in place, of which contractor test and evaluation is one part," he said, and the testing process has been worked out with Pentagon officials.

Christopher also said that the Navy is working "diligently" to resolve the issue of legacy applications so that kiosked workstations will not be an issue.

"There are certain legacy application that users need to do their jobs, but do not meet the security standards for NMCI. In those cases, quarantined workstations serve a good purpose, allowing us to get people up on NMCI, continue to do their mission while their applications are being made NMCI-compatible," he said.

"One of the challenges we face is to rework these applications quickly and get them onto NMCI and the quarantined workstation removed," he said.


"NMCI apps placed on fast track" [Federal Computer Week, May 20, 2002]

"Navy stovepipes prove resilient" [Federal Computer Week, March 25, 2002]

"NMCI navigates choppy seas" [Federal Computer Week, Nov. 12, 2001]

"NMCI helps pare legacy systems" [Federal Computer Week, Sept. 3, 2001]

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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