Hanlon on NMCI: 'EDS was not prepared'

NEW ORLEANS--Delivering a firebrand speech on the challenges of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Edward Hanlon Jr. partially blamed lead contractor EDS Corp. for what he called a lack of preparedness in undertaking the development and management of the largest IT seat management project in the world.

"I believe that EDS was not prepared to implement the contract. Whether it was due to not understanding the process or lack of internal oversight, it has been rocky and problematic," Hanlon told an audience today during the 2004 NMCI Industry Symposium.

Hanlon suggested that implementation is under resourced at EDS, leaving the Corps "unable to reap benefits of NMCI."

At the end of his remarks, Hanlon received a standing ovation, the first of any speaker at the conference. Afterwards, one attendee said: "It took a Marine to tell the truth!"

Kevin Clarke, an EDS spokesman, said, "We appreciate his candor.

"The reason we hold this symposium is to help us solve the challenges that are out there," Clarke said. "We nod our head. We acknowledge that there are challenges and we'll work with the Marine Corps to solve them."

"We are fully committed to NMCI," Clarke added. "It is far more challenging than we anticipated."

Hanlon, commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for combat development, noted several points of friction with the $8.82 billion contract.

For one, transition of Marine Corps operating forces has been delayed. Also, network services are not always available for those cut over, and there has been slow progress made in acquiring new services despite a promise in the contract for frequent refreshes and rapid rollout of new technologies, he said.

Since March 2003, only 9,000 Marine Corps computer seats out of a total of 89,000 have been cut over to the NMCI environment. At Quantico, Va., where Hanlon works, 1,350 seats out of 6,000 have been cut over.

"Suffice it to say, the current rate takes far too long to reach objectives and to all in this room, this is unacceptable," Hanlon said.

Still, Hanlon said he and the Marine Corps remain committed to the outsourcing initiative and expect better days ahead. Hanlon also called the EDS employees at Quantico very professional and committed to improving the service.

"The Marine Corps is deeply committed to the success of NMCI," Hanlon added. "When NMCI is fully operational, there is no doubt in my mind that NMCI is the right way to go and I'm confident we will get there. We are not there yet, but we really have no choice but to get there."

(Posted 3:21 p.m. June 22 and updated 8:10 a.m. June 23)

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