EDS' Naval Troubles

Remember the good old days when there were certain things you could just trust? When companies such as WorldCom Inc. would never file for bankruptcy. But times have changed.

Those waves of change are now threatening EDS, the giant information technology services company, and the waves are big enough that some Navy officials are getting a bit seasick. EDS, after all, is responsible for building the network infrastructure for about 400,000 seats across nearly 300 shore-based sites across the service.

And the news about EDS in the past week has not been good — falling stock prices, significant cash flow problems and the proverbial investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That culminated last week with a story in the London-based Financial Times that said EDS is looking to renegotiate the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract.

The newspaper quoted EDS chief financial officer Jim Daley as saying that there was a "possibility" that the company would seek to renegotiate the Navy contract to deal with the "significant buildup in unbilled receivables at the company."

EDS and Navy officials we contacted said the story was not true. Yet the company has been taking heat from Wall Street for deals such as NMCI, in which payments come later, as systems are rolled out. EDS claims it has spent millions of dollars on the infrastructure that allows them to roll out those seats.

The problems raise enormous issues for the Navy, especially if, as one Wall Street analyst suggested, EDS ends up in a real financial bind.

Mission: Math, Science and Tech

When President Bush asked the nation's leaders to help stimulate interest in math, science and technology among America's youth, Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, decided the service should do its part for the mission. Last week, the Army launched eCybermission to do just that.

Teams of three to four seventh- or eighth-graders in the same grade and region can register online at www. and select a project — in categories such as health and safety, arts and entertainment, sports and recreation, or the environment — that could make a difference in the community. For example, a team could propose a way to restore the Mona Lisa or come up with a way to make high-performance basketball shoes.

The eCybermission Web site allows teams to collaborate online using secure instant messaging, and volunteer cyber guides are available to answer questions and point out where to find research material online.

Happy Anniversary

The Defense Department's Tricare for Life (TFL) health care program celebrated its one-year anniversary last week and received high praise not only from its military health care workers, but also from the retirees who rely on it for their medical coverage.

"It's the most outstanding program in military history for our retirees," said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Murray, president of the National Association for Uniformed Services, who was also representing the National Military/Veterans Alliance.

About 1.5 million people are enrolled in TFL, and although there were some start-up glitches, mainly in persuading eligible retirees that the benefits would be available to them, "TFL was about as painless as any large program to stand up," said Ed Wyatt, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs.

Wyatt also said the pharmacy data-transaction system, used to help fill prescriptions for TFL members, has already helped catch thousands of errors related to potentially dangerous drug interactions or improper prescriptions.

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