It's not easy ... but it's better than expected

Steve LeSueur

No one expected the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program would be trouble free. After all, it's an eight-year, $6.9 billion project that eventually will connect 360,000 desktops to an integrated network.

It was not really surprising that a skeptical Congress asked questions, threatened to cut funding and then put constraints on the program. Nor was it surprising that environmental concerns caused delays at a few Navy sites.

But what was surprising to both the Navy and prime contractor Electronic Data Systems Corp. was the huge number of legacy applications residing on the Navy's desktop computer infrastructure. Since the project began in October 2000, EDS and Navy officials have found tens of thousands of legacy applications. No one can say for sure how many there are or how many more will be found.

Reducing the number of legacy applications to a manageable number is a daunting task, one that "keeps people awake at night," according to one Navy official. But for the program to succeed, EDS and the Navy have to cut the number by at least 50 percent, probably more.

Despite this and other challenges, EDS is by no means complaining. Besides providing the company with a huge chunk of revenue ? one estimate puts it at $600 million to $700 million in 2002 ? the NMCI program gives EDS the kind of high-profile exposure that can open the door to other federal business.

For her article looking at NMCI's progress to date, Staff Writer Patience Wait talked to key players in the Navy and at EDS, and visited the network operations center in Norfolk, Va.


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