Users are in the 'anger' stage in dealing with NMCI, captain says

GCN Photo Olivier Douliery

'We don't expect it all to be sweetness and light. We expect it to be ugly the first few years.'

'Capt. Chris Christopher

NASA's Lee Holcomb

Navy Capt. Chris Christopher compares the cultural challenges facing the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet to the five stages of grief.

The well-known theory explains the process by which people grieve'going from denial through anger, bargaining and depression before arriving at acceptance. Some users of the $6.9 billion NMCI program appear to be in the anger phase, but NMCI officials expect them eventually to arrive at acceptance, said Christopher, deputy director for plans, programs and oversight for the NMCI office.

'We've got to work through that process,' he said. 'We don't expect it all to be sweetness and light. We expect it to be ugly the first few years.'

That is evident at the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., which Christopher acknowledged has seen rollout go less smoothly than anticipated. NAVAIR has 3,800 PCs being cut over to the NMCI environment, and the process has experienced a few technical hiccups, Christopher said.

In April, NAVAIR officials called a halt to deployment of NMCI until the problems are fixed. Some users were having trouble logging on to NMCI from their portable computers. Others complained that NMCI made their jobs more difficult. Today, many NAVAIR users go back and forth between computers to do the same job they did previously on one.

At installations that have been cut over to NMCI by contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp., thousands of legacy applications that don't run on Microsoft Windows 2000 or that violate Navy security regulations are being moved to multiuser kiosk stations until the service can decide what to do with them.

The kiosks are not connected to the intranet.

60,000 legacy apps

Since users still need the legacy apps to do their jobs and the Navy has 60,000 legacy apps to filter through, users are forced to use their own systems and the kiosks.

The Navy has resolved remote-access problems, Christopher said, but users at NAVAIR and other installations still use more than one system to do their jobs.

Christopher said the kiosks are set up to deal with 'antiquated software and insecure software' whose continued use he considers a Navy failure, not a problem with NMCI.

Some users are unhappy with that view. Last month, they had the opportunity to respond to a five-minute customer satisfaction survey on the Web. Users were able to comment on whether the portal helps them do their jobs better, what their concerns are and how they rate the NMCI transition process.

EDS and the Navy soon expect to reach the second major milestone of the program. Once the Navy cuts over 20,000 more seats at nine sites, which is expected to occur by June 21, NMCI officials will go before top-ranking Defense Department officials to seek permission to move another 150,000 seats to NMCI. That would bring to nearly 300,000 the total number of seats OK'd for transition to NMCI.

The project eventually will consolidate 200 networks into an intranet linking more than 400,000 users at sea and ashore.

The additional seats would demand that a lot more work get done more quickly, Navy and EDS officials said.

EDS has said it wants to speed up the process through which seats are added to NMCI and have 250,000 rolled out by the end of the year.

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