Navy reboots quickly after Sept. 11

Navy reboots quickly after Sept. 11

The Navy lost 70 percent of its Pentagon office space when a hijacked jetliner crashed into the building on Sept. 11. But within a week'with the help of contractors'the department was back at work.

The Navy started by moving 1,000 employees to office space in Arlington, Va. Navy contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. rebuilt the Navy's lost classified and unclassified networks for the Navy Budget Office and other units in the temporary space.

The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet Information Strike Force, a team of contractors led by EDS, loaded nine tractor-trailers with Dell Computer Corp. notebook and desktop PCs, and fiber-optic and Category 5 copper cable. The convoy left an EDS facility in St. Louis on Sept. 13.

When the shipment arrived the next day, contractor personnel had their work cut out for them.
'They were working around the clock,' said Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, deputy program executive officer for IT and director of NMCI. 'They even brought their spouses there with them to help out. It was a tremendous groundswell of support.'

Ron Turner, deputy CIO for the Navy, said at a Sept. 20 meeting of the Defense Department's CIO Executive Board of IT chiefs and officers that each branch was asked to document its recovery efforts. The Navy began compiling a timeline.

'And as we did that, it became clear just how well the Navy-industry team had performed,' Turner said.

Fast action praised

The Navy recently turned over the timeline to Congress. Military officials from other branches have complimented Navy leaders on their ability to regroup quickly.

'It's gotten a lot of notice,' Christopher said. 'This kind of response certainly increased our confidence level.'

Earlier this year, some legislators and military officials criticized the $6.9 billion NMCI program because it turned over control of the Navy's IT infrastructure to EDS.

But the contract was a crucial factor in the Navy's rapid recovery from the attack, Christopher said.

'It would have taken the department a lot longer doing business the way we've always done things,' he said.

'We were tremendously ahead of the other services who were impacted. They were hooking up phones, and we were getting back online.'

Just a few months ago, the Navy and DOD were in a disagreement over the best way to test the mammoth program.

Back within days

Now the disaster'while wiping out 30 servers in the Budget Office'has put the program into the spotlight as a model of success.

When asked about his assessment of military IT capabilities in the wake of the terrorist attack, John Stenbit, Defense CIO, commended the Navy for rebounding so quickly.

'The Navy was up and running with alternative computers in their building within days,' he said, adding that such speed is a main strength of IT. 'We can reconstruct ourselves rather rapidly.'
How was it accomplished so quickly?

Rick Rosenburg, EDS' program executive for NMCI, credited the partnership of the Strike Force and the Navy.

'The contract was already in place, which allowed the Navy to react immediately,' Rosenburg said. 'They were able to turn to us as their partner and single IT source to do what needed to be done. They did not have to assume the role of integrator and were able to focus on their important mission at hand.'

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