NMCI chief promises 'a different animal'

EDS Corp. and the Navy yesterday signed two contract modifications on the $8.82 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet program.

Rear Adm. James Basil Godwin III, who recently took over as director of the NMCI program, said the changes involve significant modifications to the service-level agreements and what he called full-performance modifications.

Speaking at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association luncheon today in Arlington, Va., Godwin said the SLAs would drop from 200 to 37, which would help the Navy more effectively measure performance. The changes are effective immediately. The 200 SLAs were so broad "they spanned from here to the end of the universe," Godwin said to laughs from the audience.

The new structure is "going to change accountability," Godwin said. "We're going to make this business of NMCI invisible to the user. I want our users to go to the system and push the start button and not have anything to worry about."

Acknowledging it will take time to reach that goal, Godwin said the Navy and EDS would nonetheless get there under his direction.

Godwin began his Navy career as an aviator and also has significant experience in acquisition. He was formerly the lead systems engineer and deputy program manager of the F/A-18 strike fighter program at the Naval Systems Command. He ultimately became program manager and later program executive officer for tactical aircraft programs.

An EDS official said the changes are based on commercial best practices and will improve the network's overall service and efficiency. The new SLAs "are a critical step in enabling EDS to begin billing up to 100 percent on individual seats," the official said. Service-level agreements measure, for example, network performance and help desk response times.

Godwin said all sides would benefit from delivering the services faster and better. When complete, NMCI will provide voice, video and data communications services for 400,000 Navy and Marine Corps users.

"A couple of things aren't drilling down," he said. "This is not an indictment against EDS. It's just as much our fault in the Navy."

Godwin also asked NMCI users for patience.

"You're saying, 'I heard this before.' All I would ask you to do is hold that thought and talk to my counterparts over the last 12 years," he said, referring to his work helping the F/A-18 program reach certain milestones.

"If you give me a chance, we're going to do the same thing here," he said. "You've got a different animal here."

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