NMCI workers say change to EDS is smooth

Theresa McAllister says the transition to NMCI was easy because of the company's support.

Navy civilian employees are finding that switching employers as vendors assume control of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet isn't that bad.

Many workers have said they feared they would lose their jobs or face other problems as contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. assumed seats under the $6.9 billion outsourcing project, but now they say they are relieved.

'The transition was very, very easy because of the support I had from the company,' said Theresa McAllister, a computer assistant at the Navy Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va. 'It wasn't a tough decision.'

Published reports have criticized the implementation of NMCI and delays in its rollout and have noted that some employees are resisting the transition.

But employees whose jobs have been assumed by EDS are earning higher salaries and signing bonuses and are immediately vested in the company's retirement plan because EDS let them transfer the years they spent with the government. Their positions also have benefits such as education allowances and 401(k) accounts.

EDS has assigned a transition manager at each location to help employees adjust to working for the contractor. They have been guaranteed employment for three years.

'It really wasn't what I expected,' Phillip Burum said. 'There was a lot of anxiety and anticipation because I had over 34 years with the government. It was a little bit frightening. But I felt the transition would be a good thing for me.'

Burum said he has been happy working for EDS. Burum was born in the old Navy dispensary at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif., and has worked in several jobs with the Navy'from high-voltage electrician to environmental engineer.

On second thought

When EDS took over the facility last April, Burum planned to retire from his position as head of the computer laboratory. But he changed his mind after meeting the site manager from EDS.

'I signed my letter of acceptance the day of my interview,' Burum said. 'I'm still serving the same people that I served before, except that I'm doing it as a contractor.'

Burum now is the help desk manager for the customer support center in China Lake, located about three hours north of San Diego. In this post, he answers 400 to 700 calls a month from NMCI desktop PC and networking users.

'I don't know how they could have treated the government employees any better,' Burum said of EDS. 'I could have stayed with the government, but it wouldn't have been nearly as lucrative as this is.'

Reginald Way works as a senior customer service technical representative at Naval Air Station Oceana in Norfolk. Way said he sees his new job as having a revolutionary impact on the way business is conducted in the Navy.

NMCI 'is the wave of the future, which is now a reality,' Way said. 'It will change the whole structure of customer support and IT as we know it.'

In all, 1,750 Navy and Marine Corps civilian workers will make the transition to NMCI. EDS will extend jobs to all of the affected employees, said Chris Grey, a spokesman for the company.

The employees can also opt to retire or shift to another area in the Navy or Defense Department, Navy officials said.

'No employee will lose their job due to NMCI,' Grey said.
Fifty-seven Navy employees from installations in Charleston, S.C., Hawaii, Norfolk and San Diego have accepted jobs with EDS.

The Information Strike Force, the team of NMCI contractors led by EDS, is midway through cutting over 20,000 seats at nine sites to the new environment, according to Navy Rear Adm. Charles Munns, NMCI's program director.

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