Navy, EDS re-evaluate service-level contracts

'It doesn't make sense to measure something that isn't telling us anything.'

'Navy Capt. Chris Christopher

Olivier Douliery

Some of the agreements in place now don't give Navy officials an accurate picture of what the project's problems are or help gauge whether EDS is living up to its side of the $6.9 billion contract, officials said.

Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, director of plans, policy and operations for the NMCI office, said the language in some of the 137 service-level agreements'requirements of the contract that measure factors such as customer satisfaction, application response time, help desk availability and WAN performance'is ambiguous.

'We're simply tightening up the language,' Christopher said. "We're making sure that [the agreements] make sense."

For instance, the agreements don't distinguish between whether a particular site is having problems with NMCI or whether the problems are Navywide, Christopher said.

Christopher predicted that some of the agreements would be cut out of the contract while others would be fine-tuned.

New agreements might even be added, Christopher said, if the Navy and EDS consider them necessary.

'It doesn't make sense to measure something that isn't telling us anything,' Christopher said. 'It's like watching someone's heart beat when his brain is dying. It doesn't tell us anything.'

Christopher said the Navy, in the way it's revising the agreements, is emulating Fortune 500 corporations that have seat management contracts. Such companies routinely evaluate and narrow their service-level agreements over the duration of a contract, he said.

'We didn't intend for these SLAs to be a straitjacket,' Christopher said. 'As we go along, we don't want to stick to something that's not valuable.'

The allowance

NMCI is a performance-based contract. The 137 service-level agreements, which fall under more than 20 categories, affect how much money EDS receives.

Under NMCI, 200 Navy and Marine Corps networks will be consolidated into one intranet, linking voice, video and data on 411,000 desktop PCs.

The NMCI program includes technology refreshes, desktop hardware and software, technology support, e-mail, training and several security upgrades in its per-seat charge.

The service-level agreements will be monitored at three network operations centers'Norfolk, Va.; San Diego; and Oahu, Hawaii'using an enterprise management system. Christopher said the system would go online in a few months.

In addition to revising the SLAs, the Navy is working on an agreement that will let vendors connect with NMCI facilities without violating Defense Department security guidelines.

According to DOD, commercial networks should not connect directly to DOD's networks. But the Navy's Designated Approval Authority, which manages security risks, is evaluating the issue and will make a proposal to the department.

Navy officials said the proposal likely will call for contractors to use a relay server that can connect with NMCI through a boundary firewall to avoid creating a direct link to NMCI.

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