Defense bolsters plans for new IT rollouts

Navy CIO Dave Wennergren says the pilots have yielded big benefits.

Rapid Acquisition Incentive-Net Centricity program seeks out new developments for technological advances in defense

Hoping to duplicate the acquisition success of the Navy's eBusiness Operations Office, the Defense Department has established the Rapid Acquisition Incentive-Net Centricity initiative to develop and test new technologies for rapid rollout to military personnel.

CIO John P. Stenbit, also the assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration, named the Navy's eBusiness office the executive agent of RAI-NC. He said the five-year initiative, which will run from 2004 through 2009, would select five to 20 proposals to pilot each year.

The office accepted the first series of applications last month, and fiscal 2004 pilots will be chosen by Sept. 30, Stenbit said.

Priscilla Guthrie, DOD deputy CIO, said the portal would help to 'jump-start initiatives to transform the department to assist our goal of net-centricity, so timely and accurate information is available not only for the warfighters and the decision-makers, but for individuals at all levels.'

Stenbit said RAI-NC would speed up promising IT initiatives. Acceptable proposals must have limited scope, cost and duration and must demonstrate how a technology, concept or process will improve the effectiveness of DOD business processes.

Defense modeled RAI-NC on the Navy's award-winning eBusiness Operations Office, which has been lauded throughout DOD and industry as a program that helps improve readiness, business processes and quality of life for sailors and Marines.

Twofold mission

In Sept. 2000, the Navy secretary signed a charter establishing the eBusiness Office. The office has two missions: It is the Navy's center for e-business projects and provides centralized management for Navy smart-card programs, according to Lt. Cmdr. Tony Encinias, deputy director of the office's eBusiness Innovation Group.

The office is based at the Naval Supply Systems Command headquarters in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Encinias said the office provides consulting services to Navy pilot projects, offers seed funding to back innovative ideas and helps Navy units solve business problems.

The office limits the projects it undertakes to those that will take no longer than 120 days to produce a proof of concept. It also identifies private-sector partners to help Navy commands on pilots.

To date, the office, using a rigorous selection process, has funded 51 pilots ranging in cost from $100,000 to $1.2 million, Encinias said.

'These e-business solutions make business processes more effective and efficient through the infusion of technology and best practices, and they have a direct impact on combat readiness,' he said.

Navy CIO Dave Wennergren said the pilots the eBusiness office has sponsored have yielded significant benefits.

For example, the Naval Medical Center in San Diego tested a Web-based wireless system that lets personnel schedule appointments with medical specialists. That project, which received $100,000 in funding from eBusiness Operations Office, has saved time and money at the center over the formerly cumbersome paper process, Wennergren said.

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