EDS: Despite report, NMCI project's on track

The contractor for the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet project May 15 acted to squelch a published report that the project was off course.

In a conference call with reporters, Electronic Data Systems Corp. officials said the NMCI project is undergoing changes but is not hamstrung, despite a report claiming otherwise based on an internal EDS e-mail message.

In the April 25 e-mail, Mike Hatcher, chief delivery executive for EDS, tried to rally his employees to move quickly in rolling out NMCI computers. EDS has installed about 4,000 PCs?although it has authority to take over 149,000 seats.

He used phrases such as "ruthlessly rolling seats" and "scorched Earth policy" to drive home his point that the company needs to pick up the pace. "Our present way of working would probably only result in about 60,000 seats being rolled out in 2002, which if left unchanged would spell an end to the NMCI program by summertime," Hatcher wrote in the memo to members of the Information Strike Force, the team of contractors assembled by EDS to build and manage NMCI.

A report published in Computerworld interpreted the e-mail message as indicating the program was in trouble. Not true, said Rick Rosenberg, EDS' program executive for NMCI. "It was an overzealously written e-mail in an attempt to motivate employees who were going into a 48- to 56-hour work time frame," Rosenberg said. "It was an overstated attempt to rally troops."

Hatcher did not get in any trouble for the e-mail, Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg acknowledged that EDS has been working with the Navy to speed the PC installation process and the testing of Navy's 60,000 legacy applications for security and compatibility with Microsoft Windows 2000.

"Do we need to become more aggressive in streamlining processes? Yes. Do we need to become more aggressive in rolling seats out? The answer is yes," he said.

The Hatcher e-mail also suggested the Navy would need to install numerous multiuser kiosks to operate legacy apps that cannot run under Win 2000, said Navy Capt. Chris Christopher, deputy director for plans, programs and oversight for the NMCI office. Christopher said the Navy would need to run several multiuser systems for some legacy apps, at least in the near term, but it's not an NMCI deal-breaker.

Added Rosenberg, "As we go along, we are finding applications that don't run on Windows 2000, [and we're] putting them in kiosks until we decide what we will do with them." Besides Rosenberg and Christopher, a half dozen other company and Navy officials participated in the conference call.

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