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CHIPS Articles: Victor Gavin, One of the DON’s Biggest Buyers of Business IT Solutions, Talks about Modernization

Victor Gavin, One of the DON’s Biggest Buyers of Business IT Solutions, Talks about Modernization
Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems
By CHIPS Magazine - July-September 2014
Q: What are some of the major programs in the PEO EIS portfolio that support the DON’s business IT needs?

A: Everything in the PEO EIS portfolio, by definition, supports the DON’s business IT needs. However, we tend to view the programs within our PEO EIS portfolio as direct support to the warfighter. In some cases, the application, system or network might be more directly related to the warfighter mission. For example, our PMW 230 is responsible for the Global Combat Support Systems-Marine Corps (GCSS-MC) — a tactical system that supports the Marine Corps’ end-to-end logistics chain [used by Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTF)]. GCCS-MC will enhance the Marine Corps’ logistics warfighting ability. GCSS-MC enables streamlined processes and provides accurate, real-time data both in garrison and in deployed environments. The resulting enterprise-wide visibility of data allows logistics planners and operators to make decisions about their supply and maintenance requirements based on reliable information.

PMW 220 provides the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which is about 52 percent of our total obligating authority budget. ERP is an integrated business management system that modernizes and standardizes Navy business operations, providing unprecedented management visibility across the enterprise and increasing effectiveness and efficiency. The program is transforming how the Navy manages its people, money, programs, equipment, and supplies. PMW 240 Sea Warrior Program fields about 55 of the pay, personnel and leave systems that are so critical to our Sailors. Systems under PMW 240 keep Sailors’ records up-to-date. These systems are an important part of taking care of Sailors and their families. Sea Warrior Program's IT portfolio supports the Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPTE) domain and Distance Support infrastructure of our military warfighters.

PMW 205 is responsible for the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) and the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract. The NMCI, the largest private intranet in DoD if not the world, provides both unclassified and secret network capabilities to the DON. With 800,000 users, there are very few people in the Department of the Navy that do not use NMCI on a daily basis.

Q: What is the current status of these programs?

A: GCCS-MC, when fully deployed will support about 40,000 users in more than 70 locations. The next variant is entering operational testing and will be released in December. Navy ERP is currently in sustainment, but the program is incorporating improvements focused on meeting the DoD’s auditability mandate by 2018.

The NMCI is probably the one that you are most familiar with. We are working right now to transition to the NGEN contract which will save the department about $1.4 billion over the five-year life of the contract. We have transitioned several of our sites to the NGEN contract and expect to be fully transitioned by Sept. 30. Additionally, we have transitioned control of the network to Commander, TENTH Fleet.

PMW 240, the Sea Warrior Program, just awarded a contract to sustain and improve the Navy’s pay and personnel system. These improvements will streamline and optimize personnel and pay processes and activities throughout the Navy.

We are developing TRACKER, the DON Tasking, Records and Consolidated Knowledge Repository, for tracking action items at the Chief of Naval Operations level. It is a unified task and records management solution under the Sea Warrior Program that will be fielded in a phased approach.

We (PMW 110) have also issued several Enterprise Software Licensing (ESL) agreements and are working on several more.

Q: How does the DON’s business model differ from the other services in terms of enterprise IT acquisition?

A: We pride ourselves in delivering to the DON reliable and effective business IT solutions. The NMCI is a purpose-built network that uses a government-owned/contractor-operated business model (for the Navy) that is unique. The Army and Air Force models are government-owned and operated. The NMCI is managed as a program of record (POR) as opposed to a project. Our model gives us better oversight and insight into the network, and the flexibility to mature and modernize NMCI by leveraging industry innovations.

Q: Why is the DON’s approach different than the other services?

A: The DON consolidated all its disparate networks under the NMCI starting in 2000. We consolidated into a single enterprise network of more than 800,000 users. Our biggest challenge was understanding the networking environment and our requirements. Once we were able to do that it made it easier to write the NMCI (Continuity of Services) and NGEN contracts.

Q: Wouldn’t it be better to use the services offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency to field many of these enterprise solutions?

A:The Navy has a strong partnership with DISA. For example, we use them for long-haul services (circuits, the DISN) to our bases. We also use DISA’s directory services for managing our global address list and for secure mobile phones.

I absolutely agree with you. DISA does provide enterprise solutions, and the Navy takes advantage of these services when it is cost-effective.

[For example,] we took a hard look at DISA’s enterprise email solution which was essentially identical to the email product we have under NMCI. By using a Business Case Analysis (BCA) methodology, we identified that the NMCI provides enterprise email at a lower cost than what DISA can offer.

We will always consider DISA offerings for as we evaluate technical and cost effective solutions for the DON.

Q: What are your primary concerns with acquiring IT solutions for the DON?

A: The primary concern is security, especially in view of the budget. We have to continuously manage security in a balanced approach with the budget. We must have effective speed to market for acquisition and security solutions.

Q: Are there any tools in place now that are helping speed up the delivery of the PEO’s solutions?

A: We are putting in place an acquisition improvement process called the Innovation Cell. It will allow companies, both large and small to prototype their products in our environment, resulting in a more rapid and cost effective transition to the DON.

Q: Can you provide an Innovation Cell example?

A: We are conducting a pilot to migrate to Microsoft Office 365 for unclassified, NIPR cloud services for the Navy Reserve. We believe this may be a more cost effective way to deliver this capability to a subset of our users. When appropriate, we will review the potential benefit of extending this to the remainder of our 800,000 user-base.

Q: The DoD CIO signed DoD Instruction (DoDI 8330.01) “Interoperability of Information Technology (IT), Including National Security Systems (NSS)” May 29. The instruction states that "IT that the DoD components use must interoperate, to the maximum extent practicable, with existing and planned systems and equipment of joint, combined and coalition forces, other U.S. government departments and agencies and non-governmental organizations." Will this instruction lead to any changes in the systems in the PEO EIS portfolio?

A: It will lead to changes in how we operate and acquire systems. The technical risk is mitigated as long as we continue to design our networks to common commercial standards. We continue to enhance joint engagement with the other services to develop the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

One of the reasons the Navy is the executive agent for JIE Increment 2 is because of our concern about the interoperability of our systems, and the Navy’s need to work with coalition partners.

These partners need access to specific information without access to our entire network. This will have an impact on overall system design.

Q: I know security is a huge concern for government IT systems, do you think DoD and the Navy will ever get to a “bring your own device” policy since users are asking for this capability?

A:Yes. Security is a constant priority, and we continue to monitor industries progress to manage our challenges. Some products right now are getting closer. For example, BlackBerry has a model that allows a partition between your business and personal data. Other vendors are offering similar products. We will follow the industry path. Industry is making major investments in this market, and we will adopt those solutions as they mature.

Q: There was some discussion at the DON IT Conference this week at the CIO Town Hall about the Navy’s migration from XP to Windows 7. I understand that the migration has been completed for the NMCI. Has there been any discussion about the migration to the next operating system?

A: Yes, the migration to Windows 7 for the NMCI is complete. We are in discussion right now with Microsoft about the next operating system (OS). We are not looking to lead or be revolutionary in our approach. In general, we want to follow the state-of-the-practice and our primary focus is security driven by our large user base.

Windows 8 was primarily designed for tablets and mobility, in contrast to the department’s heavy use of personal computers. In the initial deployment, Microsoft saw right away that using Windows 8 on PCs was problematic, which resulted in adjustments to allow the OS to be more usable in the PC environment. Given these adjustments, we are reviewing our strategy for implementing the next OS upgrade.

Q: What makes IT acquisition unique? For example, how does acquiring IT differ from acquiring a ship?

A: My previous 30 years of government work was focused on the acquisition of submarines, combat systems and torpedoes. IT is very different because in the case of buying submarines and combat systems the Navy or Defense Department controls the entire environment and makes 100% of the investment, including R&D. Not so with IT. I read recently that three of the top IT companies plan to invest more than $18 billion in R&D this year alone. The Defense Department will not spend anything close to that. As a result, this reality will drive our acquisition and investment strategies.

Victor Gavin, Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems
Victor Gavin, Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems
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