E-business drives Navy's IT plan
E-business drives Navy's IT plan<@VM>Major programs
- By Dawn S. Onley
- Sep 14, 2001
'We're kind of driven by the recognition of where we need to go to be a 21st century digital force,' said Dave Wennergren, a Navy deputy CIO. 'This transformation to the digital age is a moment of opportunity. It's not just taking the process we have today and doing it electronically.'
Navy officials are talking a lot about superhighways, fancy cars and competent drivers.
Not literally. The Navy is using them as a metaphor for the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, electronic government and information technology workers.
[IMGCAP(1)]According to David M. Wennergren, a Navy deputy chief information officer, the superhighway is the $6.9 billion intranet outsourcing plan that will convert all Navy and Marine Corps systems into a single, enterprisewide portal.
The fancy cars represent the electronic-business applications that will reside on the intranet. The drivers are the IT workers, Wennergren said.
So where does the rubber meet the road in this automotive analogy? The e-business program will let the Navy conduct nearly all of its business processes in an integrated, automated, paperless environment.
'We're kind of driven by the recognition of where we need to go to be a 21st century digital force,' Wennergren said. 'This transformation to the digital age is a moment of opportunity. It's not just taking the process we have today and doing it electronically, but reengineering it.'Electronic ride
In the superhighway metaphor, the Naval Supply Systems Command in Mechanicsburg, Pa., would be the service's e-business 'garage.' NAVSUP is the Navy's clearinghouse, providing consultation on ways for units within the service to use e-business. The command also has set up a pilot fund of $20 million a year to pay for innovative e-business ideas submitted by Navy personnel.
So far NAVSUP has fielded more than 400 responses and has OK'd funding for eight e-business functional areas, including medical, personnel and logistics. For example, the command has fielded a plan to move dental records to a Web application accessible by health care providers and employees using smart cards.Away with paper
'It gets them out of the paperwork,' Wennergren said.
With the added bandwidth, security and public-key infrastructure that NMCI will bring, Wennergren sees the Navy moving into an enterprisewide e-business environment. He said the effort will transform Navy forces both ashore and at sea by putting a variety of applications, such as small purchases, distance learning initiatives and self-service programs, securely on the Web.
'There's a flurry of activity going on,' Wennergren said. 'The CIO is really about change, getting organizations to embrace change.'
NMCI is one of the Navy's biggest attempts at change. The contract has come under fire from some quarters, including lawmakers who recently sought to clip $120 million for the project from the Defense authorization bill.
It is one of the largest federal outsourcing contracts to date, which could be one reason why NMCI has received a higher-than-average level of public scrutiny, officials said. Some critics of the plan, however, remain unconvinced that transferring ownership of Navy computers to an outside contractor is the correct way to go.
The Defense Department has adopted an e-business plan to create an enterprisewide electronic environment by 2010 in which best business practices and technology are used for a wide range of operations.
The next challenge could be getting the Navy's own superhighway to merge with DOD's.Information Technology for the 21st Century. This is a plan to bring high-speed, secure networks to battlegroup ships. Eventually, IT-21 will be interoperable with NMCI, so 'the ships at sea can access the appropriate databases and talk to the right people ashore and the people ashore can communicate to the ships at sea,' said Richard Mayo, the Navy chief information officer.
Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. This $6.9 billion outsourcing initiative, run by Electronic Data Systems Corp., is an enterprisewide, managed system for voice, video and data communications that will consolidate 200 networks into one Navy Department intranet, linking more than 360,000 desktop PCs. Since January, EDS has assumed responsibility for 42,000 seats. The company has also upgraded the infrastructure of 29 Navy sites and constructed 17 server farms.
Smart cards. The Navy has issued smart cards to every recruit at the Naval Recruit Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill. The recruits use them for applications throughout basic training. Smart cards also are being used at numerous other Navy and Marine Corps bases and on the George Washington Carrier Battlegroup.
Web-enabling. The Navy created Taskforce Web to select key applications that can be moved onto the Web. The move is designed to improve access to the apps while lowering costs.