Director defines NMCI hurdles

Navy NMCI site

The Navy has had to overcome daunting hurdles to roll out its Navy Marine Corps Intranet, according to the project's director.

Navy Rear Adm. Charles Munns, NMCI director, said the $8.8 billion networking plan has had to overcome strife from within the Navy and the Marine Corps, as well as from lead contractor EDS, the Defense secretary and Congress to get where it is today.

Add to that mix the recent conflict in Iraq, which has diverted many people who will be using the system, and the potential impediments continue to mount, he said.

"The Navy was a boundary that we had to overcome, perhaps more so than even outside influences," said Munns, speaking June 12 at FCW Media Group's E-Gov 2003 conference in Washington, D.C. "The Navy is a very independent and decentralized entity and lots of power resides with the local commanders."

The Marine Corps presented less of a challenge, he said, because of its comparatively small size and strong history of having centralized, controlled and standardized information technology systems.

EDS and the multiple smaller contractors presented a different challenge, because their approach to the project was inherently different than the Navy's.

"It became all about relationship management," Munns said. "EDS is interested in revenue and project completion from that point. We are interested in fulfilling our mission."

While both motivations eventually would lead to the same place — getting the system's deployment under way — arriving at that point presented difficulties.

With respect to working within the Defense Department, Munn said the relationship between the Navy and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) marked perhaps the biggest initial failure.

"We initially thought we would be able to do this under cover, without getting noticed, and charged ahead," Munns said. "We have since learned there must be a strong partnership with OSD, because we're talking about a very large pot of dollars being spent."

With the recent deployment of many sailors and Marines to Iraq and Afghanistan, the rollout of the network has had to take on an unprecedented degree of flexibility.

"We have had to change the schedule around, mostly with the Marine Corps," Munns said. "It would not make sense to go to a camp and [install] the network when they're all gone. But we expect them back in about six months and we will get the seats cut over on schedule."

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