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CHIPS Articles: A Conversation with Ms. Carla Lucchino

A Conversation with Ms. Carla Lucchino
Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration (DON/AA) Talks About the DON Tasking, Records and Consolidated Knowledge Repository
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2014
Ms. Carla E. Lucchino is the Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration (DON / AA). She was assigned to this position in June 2010. She is the Navy’s senior career civilian advisor to the Secretary, performing high-level assignments in execution of the Secretary's policies, goals and objectives. She provides administrative management and support to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, its 5,000 member Secretariat, staff offices, field activities and supported organizations.

Q: DON TRACKER is a relatively new initiative. Would you please explain how the program came about and why it is such an important endeavor?

A: My pleasure, and thank you for this opportunity to get the word out about DON TRACKER.

When I became the Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration about four years ago, the Secretary asked me to look across the Department of the Navy’s administrative structure and find opportunities for improvement. His direction was to make only those changes that would yield improvements.

One of the things we spotted in our survey of the administrative structure was the numerous tasking systems. There are at least 23 of them, and most are more than 10 years old. Let’s look at a SECNAV instruction. Getting one SECNAV instruction issued today takes a very long time. First, it takes a long time to write it, then it takes a long time to coordinate it. Much of that is done sequentially and manually using a combination of documents, email, forms, comment matrices, and other tools.

So a SECNAV instruction from start to finish could take a year, maybe longer. Second, we found that many personnel could not see taskings. If you wanted to task someone you had to manually input that tasking into separate systems. And, there is no automatic records retention; we weren’t all looking at the same information. This all contributes to why it takes a long time to issue policy documents. So we got the Navy and Marine Corps together with the Secretariat, and we all said that we can’t operate like this anymore. But, everybody was reluctant to give up the system they owned. No surprise. They use it every day; they understand how it works and are comfortable with it.

We formed a collaborative team to work through all the issues, and they recommended one tasking system as the solution. The team determined the new tasking system also needed to manage records, and it needed an efficient method to support FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requirements. So, we performed a business case analysis and found that DON TRACKER created a positive return on investment (ROI) within the first year of deployment. This ROI is based on the projected efficiency improvements, retired major applications, and reduced IT footprint in the department.

Consequently, the Under Secretary approved the unified task and records management solution, and we were off to the races. The DON TRACKER Functional Requirements Document (FRD) was approved by me, the DON Chief Information Officer (CIO), the Director of Navy Staff (DNS), and the Director of the Marine Corps Staff (DMCS), which underscores the interest and commitment across the Department.

Q: What is the anticipated launch date and how are communities responding to the change?

A: The DON TRACKER design and development iterations began in May 2013, and an early prototype for integration and design refinement started in March 2014. We’re targeting spring 2015 for initial deployment to shore commands in the unclassified environment. The acquisition agent for DON TRACKER is the Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) within the Navy Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS).

Regarding the change, of course there were initial concerns, and the issue has been and will be that “someone will take my system away.” We recently met with the Director of Navy Staff (DNS), Vice Adm. Scott Swift and the Staff Director, Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC), Maj. Gen. Michael Regner, and they are fully behind DON TRACKER. In fact, General Regner has volunteered the Marine Corps to be the initial organization to test and refine our prototype. This is phenomenal because we want someone who is a tough critic. We need someone who expects to get a system that works or they won’t use it. That’s exactly who you want doing the initial testing. And, Admiral Swift volunteered to get an early jump on it as well and help any way he can.

As part of development we’ve also been doing monthly software demonstrations, called “sprints,” with users since July 2013. And we’ve collected a lot of feedback. For example, users look at navigation and workflows, how menus work, what type of information is in a tasking, are the authorities in the right place on the form, etc. I anonymously attended a sprint in February, and I was thoroughly impressed. The interface is simple and clean, tasks are assigned via drop-down directory, a timeline shows task status, and the tool is configurable for permissions and other options.

We have the right mix of folks from the Secretariat, Navy, and Marine Corps on these sprint demos, and they’re scrutinizing the development of DON TRACKER down to the definition of words. This is excellent because it’s critical that we deploy this on time and that it works as prescribed. So, I believe that we’ve turned the corner from people saying they’re not interested in changing because they already have a system that works to “how fast can we get it?”

Q: As a unified task and records solution, DON TRACKER will have a centralized repository. How is that viewed since commands have their own systems and databases today?

A: Some might consider a central records repository a negative. But, it’s actually a positive because the current administrative steps that occur at least 23 times across the DON — given the number of tasking and records management systems — will now be done using one solution. Of course it’s a big change, and I appreciate that. So, we’re investing in a very aggressive outreach effort and training program to implement DON TRACKER. It’s critical for organizations to understand that DON TRACKER will save an enormous amount of time. People won’t have to remember the rules for what information to keep or how long to keep it. This will all be done automatically. We’ll be operating off the same set of rules and with the same results across the DON.

As you know, the Department of the Navy is a large organization, and if we are all going in the same direction we are powerful. So DON TRACKER will only make us better and more efficient. I can understand why people are hesitant to learn the new system, but once we get there everyone will see the benefits, particularly the automated records management capability. Today, individual organizations are trying to comply with federal records management requirements. However, doing so in a decentralized and manual way produces redundancy and inconsistency across the Department.

For example, the Standard Subject Identification Code (SSIC) is essential to federal and DON compliant electronic records management. In DON TRACKER, users will assign an SSIC at the outset of tasking. DON TRACKER will also allow other business and compliance rules, such as record retention periods, to be automatically applied to taskings. With records management business rules and exception handling built into DON TRACKER, we’ll be consistent, we’ll be accurate, we’ll follow the rules, and we’ll be timely … all criteria of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Think of it this way: We are going to task, create, respond, and retain all in the same solution.

Q: What is the plan to roll out DON TRACKER across the enterprise?

A: In January 2014, we began laying out the framework for adoption of the new tool and unified processes. A core aspect of the roll out is to start with early adopters, such as the Marine Corps, as I mentioned earlier. We will gradually expand these controlled user groups and assess the overall organizational impact of the DON TRACKER implementation. This knowledge will guide the phased DON TRACKER deployment over time concurrently with retiring the larger task and records management systems.

Of course, I would like to be more aggressive in deploying DON TRACKER. But we have seen “big bang,” all-at-once implementations fail, and we want to avoid that path. I understand the process, but anticipate that once selected organizations start using the prototype, others will see the value and want the same efficiency. There will come a point if you’re not using it, you’ll be on the outside. I believe this will drive a faster implementation than what we’re planning right now.

There’s another key aspect of our long-term approach. Early on, I insisted that we own sufficient technical data to allow organic support for DON TRACKER. This means our people will become the maintainers. Often times if you’re tied to a specific contractor for the life of a system, it can be very expensive and enhancements can get delayed. The underlying technology of DON TRACKER is highly configurable, which was a priority requirement. So, we will have the control and flexibility to modify, improve, and update functionality at a reasonable cost, and at a very rapid pace, without having to deploy new software every time.

Q: The timing and technology certainly seem right for DON TRACKER. In your view, what does success look like?

A: Decision-making within the department is highly interdependent and document-driven, so we must enable better, faster and secure coordination through automation. Ultimate success is where we’re sharing information and working collaboratively. DON TRACKER is a vital step in advancing the DON’s knowledge management vision, which is to “create, capture, share and reuse knowledge to enable effective and agile decision-making, increase the efficiency of task accomplishment, and improve mission effectiveness.” It’s fact-based decision making.

We are facing tough fiscal times, plus we can expect exponential growth in digital content and staff coordination points. So we need to act now, and a single, modern, and compliant DON records and task management platform is foundational. It will improve information visibility, reduce operating costs, and save our leadership and workforce an enormous amount of valuable time. The Department of the Navy and the services deserve nothing less.

Q: Thank you.


DON TRACKER will be the Department of the Navy enterprise-wide capability for task and records management, replacing multiple legacy applications and processes with a single, holistic solution. The technology platform is a Web-based, data-centric information service to initiate and submit taskings, automatically synchronize records with taskings, improve task tracking visibility, and provide an authoritative repository for taskings and records. The total solution comprises 13 unified workflow processes and five core capability modules summarized below:

  • Task Management and Workflow – Prepare, assign, assemble, and distribute taskings via electronic workflow templates and forms. Task within and across organizations. Monitor, manage and track taskings to completion. Lookup / assign Standard Subject Identification Codes (SSIC) and other selectable attributes and parameters.
  • Reporting – Produce pre-defined reports, custom reports, and reports with flexible attributes. Enable multiple report levels, tasking completion metrics, content audits, etc.
  • Document Management – Create, organize, store, retrieve, and share electronic content / documents. Role-based access, system administration, library services.
  • Records Management – Provide federally compliant lifecycle records management capability through creation, maintenance, use, and disposition in accordance with law, policy, and regulation. Provide continuity of content in the event of a disruption of operations.
  • Search – Access specific items including taskings, documents, and records. Search across the enterprise (including e-discovery) for topics and information.

Users of DON TRACKER will include tasking authorities, action officers and respondents, administrative and analytics support personnel, program managers and oversight staff, and compliance monitors such as legal, historical, and intelligence personnel.

Access to DON TRACKER will be via unclassified DoD networks, initially via NMCI and ONE-Net. Command administrators will facilitate most user management; however, individual users with a Common Access Card (CAC) will be able to self-register in DON TRACKER. These users will be assigned to the appropriate organization using the digital credentials on the CAC.

Because DON TRACKER is highly configurable, organizations will have flexibility to tailor the system, migrate existing content, and maintain security permissions. DON TRACKER will also provide the capability for organizations to indicate customer permissions such as close hold, business sensitive, or personally identifiable information (PII).

— DON TRACKER Functional Requirements Document (FRD), dtd 18 March 2013, signed by the Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration, DON Chief Information Officer, Director of Navy Staff, and Director of Marine Corps Staff.

For more information contact the PMW 240 Public Affairs Office at or (703) 604-0192. .

Navy Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS)

Ms. Carla Lucchino, Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration (DON/AA)
Ms. Carla Lucchino, Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration (DON/AA)

Summary of DON TRACKER benefits.
Summary of DON TRACKER benefits.
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