Defense

Navy looks to update business systems to improve vessel maintenance

U.S. Navy ships conduct a refeuling-at-sea by SN Jarrod Schad public domain photo 

The Navy wants to update its business systems to mitigate submarine and other maintenance issues and delays at shipyards.

"Some of the business systems that we rely on at our shipyards are antiquated; things that use COBOL -- which is a programming language that was antiquated back when I was in college 30 plus years ago," Thomas Harker, the acting Navy secretary, told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense during an April 29 hearing.

"We've got to invest in updating those systems. We don't have an electronic time and attendance system...we've got a lot of problems that we need to fix."

In written testimony, Harker stated that improved business systems would help enhance performance and reduce costs.

"Leaders in every functional unit and discipline have been directed to set business systems modernization on an integrated path that is sufficiently resourced and supported across the [Department of the Navy]," the acting secretary wrote. "Modernization of our information technology infrastructure is a critical warfighting priority...effective use and management of data is key to our digital transformation, and will change how we will fight and win at every level."

Harker also noted that the Navy was consolidating legacy systems, with the aim of reducing 10 financial systems to three by the end of fiscal 2021.

And the Navy's move to cloud infrastructure is key to modernizing those legacy systems.

"We are moving to the cloud off of legacy infrastructure, which as you know is vulnerable," Adm. Michael Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, testified.

For example, the Navy migrated a financial tool called the Enterprise Resource Planning system, which has over 70,000 users, to the cloud over the past year, Gilday said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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