Navy, EDS to refine performance metrics

The Navy and EDS are working to "tighten" the service-level agreements that are the basis of measuring the performance of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, a senior Navy official said.

NMCI, the Navy's $6.9 billion initiative to create an enterprisewide network linking more than 400,000 desktops across the service's shore-based facilities, is a performance contract in which EDS must meet specific service levels. The company is penalized if it does not meet those levels and receives a bonus if it exceeds them.

When the contract was written two years ago, it laid out more than 135 specific performance requirements in 20 categories.

Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI's deputy director of plans, policy and oversight, said that the Navy and EDS always anticipated that they would re-examine the service-level agreements.

The idea is to ensure that the service levels are measuring things that actually matter, he said during an Aug. 27 briefing with reporters. "We're simply tightening up the language," he said. "We're making sure they make sense."

Such tinkering should be a normal part of a performance-based information technology contract, said Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc. and a former senior procurement executive with the Air Force. "Change is the only constant," he said.

The overarching goal is to improve performance and reduce costs during the contract.

"One has to be prepared to have a process improvement related to service-level agreements because things change," said Jean Barbosa, chief operating officer and senior vice president of sales for Provance Technologies Inc., which offers seat management services to federal agencies.

Under the NMCI contract, the Navy and EDS had to roll out 20,000 seats before they would officially start monitoring the service levels. Having now rolled out more than 21,000 seats, they will start monitoring the levels very soon, Christopher said.

The service levels are monitored using an enterprise management system located at the NMCI network operations centers in Norfolk, Va., San Diego and Hawaii. That system is expected to go online soon, Christopher said.

The operation of that enterprise management system is one of the questions at the heart of NMCI's next milestone. Pentagon officials have asked the Navy to demonstrate that they can accurately monitor service levels across the network.

NMCI officials said they hope to have those tests completed by October and pass the next milestone in November.

The goal of the service levels is to ensure that the project is in line with the organization's mission, Mather said. "Have we really linked what we're doing with mission accomplishment?"

Organizations need to assess what is important to measure and then attempt to figure out what performance level they need.

But the goal is to measure results. "If you're just measuring IT, you are probably measuring usage and not results," Mather said.

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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