NMCI 'has not been a perfect process'

NEW ORLEANS - The $8.82 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program is over budget and schedule.

Lead contractor, EDS Corp., has run into financial problems with the seat-management contract, which has yet to break even. Security overlays placed on the intranet have some users complaining that dial-in is slowing up performance. User satisfaction is not as high as the Navy would hope.

Still, the program has seen more ups than downs, according to Navy Secretary Gordon England, and Navy leadership is committed to moving forward on what he calls "the largest single network in the world."

NMCI will eventually have more than 360,000 users on its integrated voice, video and data portal. The second largest network, IBM Corp., has 319,000 users followed by the United Kingdom government which outsources 100,000 government computer seats to industry.

"Only the Internet itself has more users than NMCI," England said today during a breakfast keynote at the 2004 NMCI Industry Symposium.

The Navy and EDS are in a partnership, and the contractor will eventually reap financial success while delivering an operationally sound portal for Navy and Marine Corps users, England said.

EDS is paid a set amount for each computer they cut over. They are paid more based on reaching the contract's service level agreements. EDS has assumed responsibility for roughly 190,000 seats.

"EDS has worked on some hard times," England said, noting the "financial difficulties" the NMCI contract has brought to the corporation.

"We applaud EDS for staying the course with us. They will meet their expectations," England said.

In addition, NMCI users who are not satisfied with the products or services need to know that NMCI officials are still working out the bugs in the portal and that things will improve over time. England likened the difficulties to the uncertainty he sometimes faces at home logging on to his America Online account.

Rear Adm. Charles Munns, director of NMCI, said the dial-in security overlays "have slowed down performance for what people are used to" but that officials are working every day to improve the portal.

"This has not been a perfect process," England added. Still, it's already leaps better than the way IT was managed before in the Navy, he said.

Just five years ago, the Navy had 28 separate commands that budgeted and managed their own IT systems autonomously. The Navy had no accounting of how much money it spent on IT products and services. Today, IT expenditures are bundled into the monthly computer seat cost the Navy pays for NMCI.

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