NMCI contract gets a rewrite

NEW ORLEANS — The director of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet today announced that certain portions of the NMCI contract are being rewritten to phase out some of the service level agreements.

The NMCI contract is built on service level agreements (SLAs) — specific tasks that lead contractor EDS must perform in order to receive financial compensation. NMCI director Navy Rear Adm. Charles Munns said today a decision was made that too many SLAs were bogging down the contract and that it was difficult to focus on the task at hand — building and populating the network — when they had to follow more than 240 parameters.

"In the last two and a half months, we have worked with the Navy and Marine Corps team to reduce the total number to about eight SLAs and 30 parameters," Munns said at the NMCI Industry Symposium here.

Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI's staff director, said that the contractors had erred on the side of caution by loading down the contract with SLAs. Later, it was discovered that many of those SLAs were too narrowly focused and didn't allow for the larger project to progress as planned.

"If you have hundreds of SLAs and performance elements that you're measuring, you have to ask yourself if you're really measuring anything at all and, if so, if it's meaningful," Christopher said. "It doesn't do a doctor a whole lot of good to monitor a patient's heart rate if the patient is brain dead."

The powers-that-be realized some time ago that some of the SLAs would have to be cut, but the real effort to begin that process, a process not yet complete, began only a few months ago.

"We are going to have fewer SLAs, but they're going to have a greater effect and be more measurable," he said.

Christopher did not know immediately which SLAs were slated for elimination, or whether a specific end number is the desired goal.

He gave an example, however, of what types of services do not need such intense scrutiny. E-mail, for example, is a key component of NMCI. The service level agreements in place were being used to measure how long it took for a message to go from a sender's computer to a server, from that server to a network operation center (NOC), from that NOC to a different NOC, to another server and finally to the recipient.

"Instead, it makes a heck of a lot more sense for use to measure how long it takes the message to get from the sender to the recipient instead of getting muddled down in the middle," he said. "There will probably not be an end point we reach in the number of SLAs we settle on until the contract is finished. What is important is having agility and flexibility while protecting the interests of the government."

NMCI is the Navy's massive initiative to create a single enterprise network across some 400 shore-based sites. EDS owns and operates the network.

Given that much of EDS' revenue from the NMCI project is based on service level agreements, certain financial portions of the contract are going to have to be rewritten, as well. It was not immediately clear if EDS will automatically receive the money they would have gotten had they met some of the SLAs that are slated for cutting, or if the company will have to perform some other service to reap the financial rewards.

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