The future of the largest enterprise network in the Department of Defense (DoD) lies in the hands of Capt. Shawn Hendricks, program manager for the Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) Program Management Office.
On Feb. 24, 2011, the Department of the Navy officially established NEN, which is also known as PMW 205, as the curtain came down on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) and the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) program offices.
NEN will manage the acquisition life cycle of the DON's enterprise-wide information technology networks. NEN's portfolio of networks includes NMCI, NGEN and the OCONUS Navy Enterprise Network (ONE-Net). NEN provides program management of the NMCI Continuity of Services Contract (CoSC) with Hewlett-Packard (HP), the NMCI and ONE-Net service provider. In the meantime, the NEN program office will continue to develop the acquisition approach and transition strategy roadmap for NGEN's successful implementation. Eventually, the NEN program office will merge with NMCI and ONE-Net into a single enterprise network using the NGEN acquisition approach.
NEN is a strategic and natural evolutionary step in the acquisition of IT networks for the DON, said Rear Adm. Charles "Grunt" Smith, program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS). "This is an opportunity to unify the department's terrestrial networks and data management to improve capability and service while saving significant dollars by focusing our efforts under one program office and one enterprise network construct."
NEN program manager Capt. Shawn Hendricks came to the program from the National Reconnaissance Office, where he served as the reconnaissance systems office's principal deputy director. In that post, he led a team of more than 200 military and civilian personnel in the acquisition of a classified spacecraft.
"My vision for the program office is to Kube the leader in large scale IT procurement, not just in the DoD, but in the federal government," Hendricks said. "When somebody wants to do something of scale in IT, I want them to look to our model and say it is scaled, it is versatile, it is agile, it is efficient, it is effective, it is cost wise, and it serves the people at the level they need to be served.
It is very humbling to be selected as the leader of NEN with its vitally important mission in building the DON's future enterprise network on the foundation of NMCI, ONE-Net and NGEN, Hendricks said. "PMW 205 is about the future. It is a future that provides virtualization, agility, flexibility, mobility and security, all delivered at a better price than they are today. There are no secrets — it is clear what we must do."
"People talk about NMCI seats, a term used to describe an end user's hardware, but it's much more than that," Hendricks said. "The Navy Marine Corps Intranet is the largest weapons system in the world. It touches more Marines, Sailors and civilians each day than any other system in our arsenal. It accomplishes tasks as mundane as entering maintenance data following an engine change or building a PowerPoint presentation, to tasks as life changing as the issuance of orders into battle and, probably more importantly to many, the delivery of a picture of a newborn to a father many miles from home, or the news to a wife or father that their husband or daughter was safe following an aircraft mishap."
Hendricks has a formidable task ahead of him as he takes on a job that has taken two men to accomplish, said James E. Thomsen, principal civilian deputy for Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, guest speaker at the establishment ceremony.
It is Hendricks' challenge to "take the network we have today, that we are so dependent on, and with the help of our industry partners, not miss a step and not lose any ground in reliability, supportability and performance," Thomsen said.
Merging NMCI and NGEN
Combining the NMCI and NGEN program offices at this time makes sense, Hendricks said. "We have a network that's in operation that will evolve over the next 38 months, and we have a network that will follow it. The same people who are in charge of the operation and maintenance are in charge of planning for the future so that we don't do anything today that hamstrings us for tomorrow. Over time, I believe we will get some efficiency out of it."
The two primary goals of NEN are to ensure that the NMCI network the Navy has today meets the requirements of the fleet and to execute the NGEN acquisition plan to seamlessly transition to a fully government-owned, operated and controlled network by the end of the NMCI CoSC — if not sooner.
The biggest challenges in meeting the goals are time and money, Hendricks said. "NGEN is a very complex acquisition program that must move forward on an exceedingly tight timeline to meet the NMCI CoSC deadline. While the timelines of other programs may slip for one reason or another, the network must be delivered on time," he said.
While the days are already slipping away, budget will be a major overriding factor because the government is operating in an austere environment, Hendricks said. "We have to figure out how to do more, or at least the same, with less. It is a large network, and it comes with an appropriately large bill, but to the extent that we can, we have to try to consume less and try to deliver the same or better service."
The easiest way for the DON to save money would be to place all 400,000 workstations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area with a server farm and help desk nearby, Hendricks said. "But the Navy will not be very well served. So one of the challenges that we have is how do we serve 700,000 users that are spread across the country in remote places, such as a strip mall in Opelika, Alabama, where the recruiting depot is because they have as much right to the network that we provide as I do in my office at the Washington Navy Yard. It is a challenge."
It is a challenge that Hendricks took on because of the importance of IT to the Navy.
"There isn't a broader, more important program in the Navy," he said. "Try to go a day without dealing with one of your IT devices. I challenge anyone to do that, and I certainly know that when the IT devices that our program office provides [to] the senior members of our Navy and Marine Corps don't work, they call really fast because they rely on them."
Disestablishing two program offices
In addition to establishing NEN Feb. 24, the ceremony was also a celebration of the accomplishments of Capt. Scott Weller, the outgoing program manager of the NMCI program office, and Capt. Tim Holland, the outgoing program manager of the NGEN program office. The two captains were each awarded a Legion of Merit medal for exceptional meritorious leadership and management of their programs.
Weller oversaw the NMCI CoSC negotiations that ensured network services would continue Oct. 1, 2010, at the expiration of the original NMCI contract. The program office continued to advance technical capabilities, such as the hybrid maritime operations centers, with greater command and control capabilities and the synchronized enterprise global address list (GAL) connecting NMCI's directory with e-mail addresses and contact information for personnel from every branch and agency of the DoD.
Due to the hard work of the men and women of PMW 200, the image of NMCI has changed dramatically during his three years as program manager, Capt. Weller said. "Every NMCI office and cubicle in Crystal City and beyond has played an important role in PMW 200's battle plan to win over customers and improve the network these last three years. Not only is the program office set apart by having an incredible collection of government leaders with years of expertise and unstoppable energy to dig in and do what's right, it is supported by the genuine and dedicated efforts of many contractors."
NGEN has had a number of remarkable achievements, Capt. Holland said. The requirements, system design specifications and acquisition strategy have been approved. The integrated master schedule is complete, and every detail of the plan is being worked. The early transition activities have commenced and some have delivered. The intellectual property rights for NMCI have been purchased and infrastructure acquisition has begun.
Holland has been program manager for NGEN since June 2007 and has mixed feelings about leaving the program, he said. "No one can be a part of something as important to our nation and the naval service without taking on a feeling of ownership. I am ready to hand over the helm to Shawn. NGEN deserves a new captain with fresh energy, drive and ideas to take her into the future of naval IT."
The new consolidated program office, PMW 205, has an amazing challenge ahead in continuing to provide the men and women using NMCI and ONE-Net — which represents nearly a quarter of all DoD users — with a high-quality network while moving toward NGEN which is the largest procurement action in the DoD, Hendricks said.
"Ladies and gentlemen of PMW 205, this is your captain speaking — please unfasten your seatbelts, remove the overwing exits and lead us calmly, effectively and efficiently to the network of the future," Hendricks said at the ceremony. "I am honored to join you on this noble journey."
Michelle Ku is a contractor who supports the public affairs office for the NMCI program.