Reader Survey: Navy users sound off on NMCI problems

Is the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, the Navy Department's $6.9 billion networking project, on the right track at last?

Users at the ground level understand the purpose of NMCI but don't think the program is living up to its promise'at least from their point of view'and they feel left out of the configuration planning process.

The self-selecting e-mail survey was sent to 2,000 Navy subscribers. The results were drawn from 100 responses.

Only 9 percent in the survey sample agreed that NMCI was on track and headed in the right direction, while 72 percent disagreed. Nineteen percent weren't sure either way.

'The process is a nightmare at all levels,' commented one survey respondent. 'Hopefully, the Navy will see benefits with the program down the line. But at this point it has been way more trouble than it is worth. The price tag for this whole deal is also outlandish.'

Among those whose workstations have already been cut over to NMCI, 91 percent didn't see an improvement over their old systems; just under a quarter expected eventually to experience an improvement.

Among those who cited improvement, one survey participant commented: 'The rollout for us was first rate. EDS [Corp., the prime contractor] personnel were sharp and had the answers. Even the Navy people they hired were better than they had been when they were working for us.'

The lion's share of respondents, 89 percent, felt there wasn't enough end-user or lower-level management input into the planning and rollout of NMCI.

Local input

'Allow involvement at the local level rather than dictating configuration by [EDS] and top brass,' said a user when asked how the rollout could be improved.

The elimination of thousands of legacy applications remains a major issue for many, the survey found.

'Eliminating legacy systems that work is not always a good idea,' said a respondent.

However, nearly half, 43 percent, thought that NMCI personnel were making progress on sorting out and reducing the number of legacy applications; a quarter said they weren't sure.

Although only 5 percent of respondents to the survey said categorically that they were getting the legacy applications they need to do their jobs, 57 percent said they were getting those necessary apps 'to some extent.'

One respondent was upbeat about the network's future benefits but expressed concern about cultural resistance to NCMI.

'Although NMCI will not provide the cost savings estimated in the business case, the idea is valid,' the respondent said. 'It will help consolidate disparate networks and get a handle on legacy applications. However, the planning and aggressive schedule have created extreme cultural resistance.'

Indeed, 62 percent of those in the survey agreed that cultural resistance remains a problem for NMCI.

'Cultural resistance is still an issue to some degree but if NMCI properly supported the workers' needs, this resistance would have melted away by now,' commented another respondent.

The answer to cultural barriers is better top-to-bottom communication, some users said.

'Continuous communication is a must,' said one. 'Leadership and communication will help drive this project forward for both government and contractors.'

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