Navy CIO: '99 budget is hampering IT efforts

SAN DIEGO— A congressional directive in the fiscal 1999 Defense appropriations
bill is wreaking havoc with Navy efforts to modernize and sustain its systems, the
service’s chief information officer said.


House and Senate lawmakers ordered the Defense Department to spend no information
technology funds on developing or modernizing systems that are not year 2000-ready.


The unintended consequence on Navy systems “could bring us to our knees,”
Navy CIO Daniel Porter said at the recent Connecting Technology Fall ’98 conference.


The year 2000 problem is the Navy’s No. 1 software priority, Porter said. Program
and systems managers have been directed to reprioritize existing budget resources to
correct date code, deferring other systems upgrades and modifications, he said.


But the language in the appropriations bill makes it hard for the Navy to go about its
other information technology activities, Porter said.


Congress also directed DOD to conduct year 2000 simulations as part of military
exercises between now and October to ensure that its systems will run come 2000. The Navy
will conduct carrier battle group tests this year to test its year 2000 fixes, Porter
said.


DOD’s deadline for year 2000 fixes to its mission-critical systems was Dec. 31.
But six of the Navy’s mission-critical systems did not meet the deadline, Porter
said.


All the service’s mission-critical systems will be ready by 2000, Porter said.
Nevertheless, the Navy is making contingency plans in case some systems are not ready, he
said.


Congress required DOD to have contingency plans in place by the end of last year for
mission-critical systems that will not meet the Office of Management and Budget’s
readiness deadlines.


Besides its computer systems, the Navy must ensure that telephone, power, water and
other systems that service bases depend on for support will work into 2000, Porter said.
Unfortunately, the Navy “did not come out of the starting block fast enough” on
this part of the year 2000 effort, he acknowledged.


Of the Navy’s 2,034 non-mission-critical systems, the pay system is the particular
concern of Navy brass. “The Navy pay system makes me more nervous than anything
else,” Porter said.  

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