Navy's '99 resolution: trim fat from systems support

SAN DIEGO—Faced with shrinking budgets servicewide, the Navy has launched a pilot
at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to explore the use of regional information
technology services.


SPAWAR is taking the lead for the Navy in developing an enterprisewide approach to the
service’s fractured IT infrastructure. The command’s pilot is a proof-of-concept
project to demonstrate that the Navy can save money by changing the way it does business.


There is a sense of urgency among Navy brass to reduce costs, Rear Adm. John Gauss,
SPAWAR’s commander, said at last month’s Connecting Technology Fall ’98
conference. Bankruptcy is forcing the Navy into a new and better way of doing business, he
said.


“The Navy has some serious financial difficulties, as does corporate Army and
corporate Air Force, with their bottom lines,” Gauss said. “IT is just a piece
of what we buy. We’ve got to buy ships and planes to replace those that are starting
to wear out.”


If nothing is done, Gauss said, there is a fiscal year in the Navy’s
not-too-distant future in which the service will have operations and maintenance funds but
no money available for modernization.


SPAWAR is exploring the use of high-volume procurements of PCs, servers and software
licenses to achieve maximum discounts through bulk buys, Gauss said. As part of the pilot,
the command will test software from Lotus Development Corp. to demonstrate that an
enterprise built around Microsoft Corp. products can, at a minimum, communicate and
interoperate with an enterprise that is built around Lotus products.


If SPAWAR exercises all its option years under a multiyear contract with Lotus, the
Navy will roll out the groupware to as many as 500,000 users servicewide [GCN, Dec. 14,
1998, Page 6]. But Navy officials declined to estimate what the potential savings might
be.


“When this pilot is completed around March and we have the data, then I’ll be
able to compare what I’ve been spending vs. what my costs become under this
concept,” Gauss said.


Where it makes sense, the Navy is consolidating duplicative IT infrastructure, funding
and contracts, as well as establishing and using common corporate processes, Gauss said.
The centerpiece of this new way of doing business is the regional IT services center, he
said.


RITSCs will provide commands and bases in their areas of operations with IT services,
such as basic network, computer and Internet access services, Gauss said. If the pilot is
successful in San Diego, the process will likely be repeated in other regions, he said.


Many commands and bases buy their own video, voice and data services and there is
considerable duplication in architectures and services, Gauss said. Because
telecommunications costs and operations are not optimized, the Navy is not fully
exploiting the benefits of a servicewide infrastructure, he said.


Regional IT services, such as consolidated Non-Classified IP Router Network, Secret IP
Router Network and Internet access, could provide commands and bases with more efficient
and cost-effective options. The SPAWAR pilot’s goal is to make the command the
Navy’s Internet service provider and to form the foundations of a Navy-wide intranet.


SPAWAR will connect commands in the San Diego area through a metropolitan area network
that runs on an OC-48 telecommunications backbone capable of transmitting 2.488 Gbps,
Gauss said. The price of the high-speed backbone with local telephone service is the same
as for local telephone service alone, he said.  

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