Navy's IT strategic plan has net-centric look

Establishing a global network-centric information infrastructure, defending it from attack and maximizing its efficiency are the top three goals in the Navy’s new information technology strategic plan that was released this week.

“The challenge is for us to ensure that our strength in IT remains an advantage on the battlefield,” Navy Secretary Donald Winter said in a statement accompanying the report. “I hope to impress upon you the urgency of the challenge.”

The plan sets out six goals for fiscal 2008 and 2009. The other three goals are sharing more knowledge for better decision-making, choosing affordable IT investments to enhance systems and developing a first-rate IT workforce.

In working toward the first goal of establishing a global net-centric infrastructure, the Navy aims for a seamless transition from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN). The emphasis is on building a naval networking environment in which data and services are available to all warfighters and those who support them.

“Our goal is to connect our IT initiatives to the men and women at the tip of the spear,” said Robert Carey, Navy chief information officer.

Keeping networks secure, especially while the war on terrorism continues, also ranks high on the list. Implementing strong authentication procedures, including the use of digital signatures agencywide, will be crucial in reaching this goal, the report states.

“While IT can be a strength, it can also be vulnerability — especially in an economy that is increasingly dependent on IT connectivity,” Winter said.

To maximize efficiency, the Navy plans to accelerate the transition of applications to the net-centric environment. This also will mean the Navy will eliminate outdated systems and duplicative data sources.

In the area of investment, a key component of the plan is to implement portfolio management policies that standardize the acquisition selection process. The Navy will base IT investments on validated user requirements and will align with overall strategic priorities.

“Areas of particular interest [for investment] include cyberspace, unmanned systems and maritime domain awareness,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations.

Tarallo is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

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