A council, composed of six separate Department of the Navy (DON) organizations, leads the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI). They include representatives from the DON Chief Information Officer (DON CIO), Program Executive Office Information Technology (PEO-IT), Chief of Naval Operations (CNO N6), Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (DASN C4I), Commander Task Force (CTF) NMCI, and the Marine Corps. Understandably, each organization has its own messages to disseminate regarding the status of NMCI. In an effort to combine these messages and develop a unified public affairs communications plan these five departments, plus the Navy Office of Information (CHINFO), have established the NMCI Navy Information Bureau (NIB).
The goal of the NIB is to provide a consistent and accurate message from a centralized source. The general public's perception of NMCI is a result of their understanding of the program, which is developed through various media sources and direct contact with target audiences. It is the NIB's duty to ensure that a proper understanding from a user standpoint is developed and delivered to everyone affected by NMCI.
Currently some of the issues being reviewed by the NIB for proactive education efforts to the public include; "How NMCI Will Affect Sailors, Marines and Civilians," "End-To-End Standardization," "Increased Security and Interoperability," and "Better, Faster Decision Making." The NIB team will find itself on the road a lot, supporting NMCI "Road Shows" for DON claimants, while developing specialized issues and products for all DON audiences. The Road Shows are intended to educate all organizations within the Department. The NIB also coordinates articles and interviews for trade publications, military and national press, as well as, develops information packets to be distributed to Congress, DON public affairs offices, NMCI users and other interested parties.
According to Captain "Chris" Christopher, Director, NMCI Services, "The NIB will play a key role in getting information about NMCI to people within the DON, the rest of the Federal Government, and the general public. NMCI is a good news story, and the NIB will ensure that the story is told."
The NIB also serves as the primary point of contact for fleet public affairs offices with questions and concerns regarding NMCI. Jennifer McGraw, PEO-IT Congressional and Public Affairs Officer (PAO) stated, "The fleet needs one place to go to obtain information regarding NMCI. With the partnership of CHINFO and the technical and public affairs personnel from our other DON partners, the NIB will become a 911 number when NMCI questions arise."
One early focus of the NIB is contacting fleet and civilian PAOs. "Our goal," said McGraw, "is to contact each fleet PAO with video packages and then personally, as their commands begin the initial implementation phases of NMCI, if not before. We want to let them know where to turn for accurate information, and set in motion the beginnings of strong working relationships."
Ms. McGraw also serves as the PEO-IT coordinator for Congressional issues. "Anytime Congress OKs spending $6.9 billion on a program, it is going to be a hot topic for a long time on the hill. With the help of our NIB members, NMCI messages are researched and can be regularly disseminated to the fleet and the civilian workforce. Hopefully it makes the Office of Legislative Affair's job of reassuring Congress much easier when our folks really understand NMCI and what it will mean for them," she stated.
The NIB's public education efforts are focused on four fronts: the fleet, DON civilians, Congress, and national media. According to Captain Jerry Peeters, DON CIO NIB representative, "The NIB recognizes that the education of such a large and diverse audience is a tremendous undertaking. Because of this, we for the most part, have focused our messages on issues that will affect everyone. The means of getting the message out is the only thing that changes from audience to audience."
Because the members of the NIB are chartered by the leadership of the DON Information Technology Executive Council (IEC), they have access to the most up-to-date information available and are poised to answer any questions that may be presented to their respective offices. Peeters stated that, "The IEC is a tremendous resource. They are the leaders of every aspect of the NMCI program. When a trade publication like Federal Computer Week [magazine] needs information for an article, it could be very time consuming to try to call each of these departments to get the data they need. The organization of the NIB allows them to make one call - a call to the NIB public affairs staff. Hopefully the NIB will make their jobs much easier."
As the DON continues its journey to a globally connected high-speed and secure intranet, the NMCI Navy Information Bureau will be on the front lines, attempting to smooth the path of education and progress.
Mr. Mazzacone is an NMCI Public Affairs Consultant with the PEO-IT.