Navy documents will be shipshape

If the Navy's enterprise records management system isn't easy to use, Charley Barth says, Navy workers won't use it because 'end users are reluctant to do additional steps to do their jobs.'

The office of the Navy CIO has launched an enterprise records management system that will ultimately manage the records and documents stored on 411,000 computers on the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

The Navy will use Total Records and Information Management software from Tower Software of Australia to keep copies of all of its records.

Tower is a subcontractor to Electronic Data Systems Corp. on the $6.9 billion, NMCI program. NMCI will link voice, video and data communications throughout the Navy.

The move will put the Navy in compliance with a Defense Department requirement to have a system in place to manage records and documents.

'We're shifting from paperwork and file cabinets to electronic desktops and digital repositories for improved access and storage,' said Michael Todd, a senior staff member in DOD's Information Management Directorate. 'We need more collaboration and better tracking of the information.'

Navy officials hope the software will standardize document management, making information such as policy decisions and personnel records available to users at 300 sites.

The system, among the largest enterprise records management systems in the federal government, will have security features that prevent users from editing messages without authorization.

Navy workers now route many documents manually, said Charley Barth, team leader for records and document management in the Navy's CIO office. The Navy wants to store records in a central location to make access easier. Barth said the service wants to avoid criticism other agencies have faced for failing to keep good records.

'The Navy does not want to be the next '60 Minutes' story,' Barth said. 'We need to get control of our records management, to handle them in a way that when problems come, we're prepared.'

Todd said the Navy broke new ground with the contract and would set an example for other agencies. 'The size of this contract is unprecedented, not just in the United States, but internationally,' he said.

The size will pose a significant challenge, Barth said, because the system must be scalable as well as easy to use.

'If we make this intrusive to the end user, this will fail,' Barth said. 'The end users are reluctant to do additional steps to do their jobs.'

Possible cost savings

The system also could save the Navy money by reducing service costs and the need for storage.
Today, the Navy pays the National Archives and Records Administration $12 million a year to store its civilian personnel records, Barth said.

'If we can reduce that fee-for-service bill through this project, we are going to do it,' he said.

Steve Vetter, EDS' director of strategic planning, said the new software would improve many facets of NMCI, including security and productivity. 'This is a single authoritative data source. The overall quality of the data should be superior,' he said.

The Navy last month installed the software on about 100 PCs in the CIO's office, Barth said.

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