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CHIPS Articles: Marine Corps IM and IT Performance Measurement

Marine Corps IM and IT Performance Measurement
Using performance measurements can help reduce costs, legacy systems and applications
By Bradford T. Ellis - October-December 2007

Several federal directives have placed high priority on performance measurement. These include the Government Performance and Results Act, which directs agencies to report performance measures linked to strategic goals, and the Clinger-Cohen Act, which mandates that agencies manage IM and IT using meaningful performance measures.

In support of these requirements, the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO) launched the DON Information Management (IM) and Information Technology (IT) Performance Measurement Program. The program establishes a disciplined set of measures and supporting data collection processes to assess and report departmental progress toward its IM and IT strategic goals and to optimize IT investment decision making.

The objective of the program is to align command-level IM and IT goals with DON enterprise level IM and IT goals; more plainly, to get everyone to follow the DON IM/IT Strategic Plan, and to do it using a common set of metrics by which progress will be assessed.

The Performance Measurement Program Working Group worked collaboratively with the Navy and Marine Corps. The working group defined high-level DON IM and IT performance measures based on the outcomes outlined in the goals and strategies of the DON IM and IT Strategic Plan FY 2006-2007.

The group is now developing the metrics that will be used to assess progress against the DON IM/IT Strategic Plan FY 2008-2009.

The Marine Corps is developing a comprehensive view of the Marine Corps IT vision, goals and objectives in an Integrated Communications Strategy that includes associated metrics that measure the progress toward achieving this strategy.

Performance Measurement Program

The Headquarters Marine Corps, Command, Control, Communications and Computers Department (HQMC C4) has been engaged in the DON Performance Measurement Program since its inception and continues to work to refine and develop metrics as they pertain to the DON IM and IT Strategic Plan.

HQMC C4 participates in the DON Performance Measurement Program Working Group to develop and refine metrics that can be benchmarked across the DON and also develops mission-related metrics that apply specifically to the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps helps define the way ahead for the DON Performance Measurement Program by ensuring that Marine Corps performance measurement priorities are articulated and captured at the Department level.

Examples of such priorities include:

• Ensuring the DON infrastructure meets Marine Corps operational needs, such as the ability of tactical Navy systems to support Marine Corps missions.
• Implementing network capabilities to support Marine Corps missions.
• Measuring the ability of IT centers to deliver common core IT capabilities, such as data centers, Web hosting, application hosting.
• Monitoring the number of network intrusions defeated.
• Reporting on the number of continuity of operation plans and disaster recovery plans in place and exercised.

Figure 1 shows Marine Corps IT goals and some of the metrics that are under development for this effort.

The Marine Corps IT goals will map to the goals of the DON IM/IT Strategic Plan to ensure alignment with Department-level strategy. Marine Corps performance metrics, which will be incorporated into the DON Performance Measurement Program, will track progress toward Marine Corps IT goals and objectives and these metrics.

The Integrated Communications Strategy will contain detailed planning information including an enterprise IT concept of operations (CONOPS), network strategy, service oriented architecture, applications strategy, data strategy, research and development strategy and a capability development roadmap.

IT Investment Best Practices

In a 2004 report, the Government Accounting Office noted that governmentwide strategic planning, performance measurement and investment management needed improvement. To meet GAO’s recommendation, the Marine Corps created the IT Steering Group (ITSG) to conduct value and risk assessments of IT capability gaps and proposed IT initiatives using multiple perspectives to ensure an enterprise-level assessment process. Figure 2 illustrates this process.

The ITSG is chartered by the assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps to assist the DON Deputy CIO (Marine Corps) in fulfilling responsibilities under the Clinger-Cohen Act. In addition, the ITSG helps foster best business practices throughout the IT capital planning and investment control process.

HQMC C4 regularly hosts ITSG conferences as part of its IT capital planning process to ensure it is on track with Department goals and objectives, Marine Corps goals and objectives, and the most pressing IT needs of the operational forces. Furthermore, the ITSG identifies investment opportunities for the Marine Corps that would result in shared benefits and cost avoidance or savings.

Ultimately, ITSG assessments assist in improving performance measurement, strategic planning and investment management by ensuring that relevant, cost-effective and strategically aligned IT investments are made.

Portfolio Management

One of several emerging Marine Corps success stories, since implementing the Performance Measurement Program, is in the realm of portfolio management. By working to achieve the DON IM and IT objective to eliminate legacy applications disapproved by Functional Area Managers, HQMC C4 reduced the number of applications in its portfolio from 1,851 to 1,725in the past year. HQMC C4 is continuing to trim down legacy applications to a targeted 5percent reduction in applications per year.

To ensure the Marine Corps meets this objective, the DON Deputy CIO (Marine Corps) has visibility into all IT procurements and will not approve expenditures for applications disapproved by the FAMs.

It Just Makes Sense

Performance measurement has long been recognized throughout industry as a strategic foundation to reduce costs and align organizational goals.

The Marine Corps’ participation in the DON Performance Measurement Program ensures that its interests are represented in the Department’s process to measure progress toward achieving enterprise-wide strategic IT goals.

Furthermore, performance metrics for Marine Corps-specific IT goals assist the DON Deputy CIO (Marine Corps) in providing the required oversight of IT investments while ensuring appropriate metrics are in place that allow visibility in how well these investments are meeting the needs of the warfighter — the most important consumer of IT services.

For more information, go to the Headquarters Marine Corps Web site at

Brad Ellis supports Headquarters Marine Corps C4.

The DON IM/IT Strategic Plan FY 2006-2007 is available on the DON CIO Web site at

Figure 1.  U.S. Marine Corps IT Goals.
Figure 1. U.S. Marine Corps IT Goals.

Figure 2.  DON IM & IT Strategic Plan.
Figure 2. DON IM & IT Strategic Plan.
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