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CHIPS Articles: Electronic Business Operations Office Update

Electronic Business Operations Office Update
By Jim Knox - April-June 2002
As reported in "Taking Care of Business, Department of the Navy Electronic Business, a Revolution in Business Process Reengineering," CHIPS Spring 2001, the Department of the Navy (DON) Electronic Business Operations Office was chartered in September 2000. Since then, this office has pursued many avenues to make eBusiness a success across the Department. As a catalyst for the Department's eBusiness (eB) transformation, the office provides eBusiness knowledge, expertise and up-to-date technical information on state of the art eB technologies and processes. These resources are available to requesting commands to support the eB efforts of Navy and Marine Corps commands.

To accomplish its mission, the Electronic Business Operations Office (eB Ops Office) is organized into several groups. The Consulting and Research Group shares eBusiness acumen to with DON commands. They provide consulting services, research, and assist with planning and organizing eB process reengineering. To support these services, this group maintains a clearinghouse of eBusiness best practices, maintains a catalogue of industry and government eBusiness initiatives, researches emerging eB topics, and conducts market research. The efforts of this group foster collaboration and help prevent duplication of effort across the Department.

The Demonstration Team (also called the eVision Team) builds visual representations of Web- based eBusiness solutions. The team visits requesting commands to define process requirements, collect actual data, and understand the functional elements of the applicable business processes. Completed in less than four weeks, these demonstations have the look and feel of live Web systems and clearly demonstrate the feasibility of potential solutions. They are useful to communicate strategic vision, promote discussion on requirements, and motivate decision-makers.

Previously, management of DON financial cards was spread among several offices. Now, financial card management is transferring to the eB Operations Office Card Management Group. Currently, the office is managing the Travel Card and the Purchase Card programs; other programs will transition in 2002. In October 2001, the functions of the DON Smart Card Office transferred to the eB Operations Office Smart Card/Common Access Card (CAC) Group. This group is leading the issuance of CACs to every active duty member, selected reservist, government civilian, and selected on-site contractor employee in the Department. This group also directs the DON's implementation and continued development of smart card technology and systems.

The Pilot Funding and Project Management Group manages the Department's eBusiness Pilot Project Program, which provides funding and oversight for eBusiness related projects. These efforts are conceived, proposed and conducted by DON commands and are completed in "Internet time" (within 90 to 120 days). Though limited in scope, these projects test eBusiness solutions to directly address Departmental business requirements. Pilot funding is intended as "start-up" money for selected projects. Once a project is successfully completed, the submitting activity is responsible for implementation.

Pilot proposals are accepted at any time as the Pilot Group evaluates submissions every 30 days. The proposals are assessed according to their impact on fleet readiness, quality of life, and quality of work life. Other considerations include exportability; scalability; breadth of Departmental applicability and transportability; degree of process innovation; project executability; and proposed technology. Each project is assessed with the help of decision support software and is then "racked and stacked" with all of the other proposals in the queue. Templates that assist with project submissions and management are available via e-mail from the eB Operations Office.

After the pilot has been executed, an opportunity analysis is performed. This is a comprehensive package describing the process and results of the project. The focus is on the applicability of the solution's backbone architecture and potential applicability to other business requirements. The opportunity analysis document is a key to the sponsoring activity's effort to obtain the necessary implementation funding. As part of this effort, the office will produce streaming videos that capture the value of each project. It is important to share the news of completed projects across the Department so other commands can take advantage of the already completed work.

FY 2001 eBusiness Pilot Projects

Eight projects were selected and completed in FY01. Beginning in FY02, 30 to 40 pilot projects will be conducted each year. Summaries of the first pilots follow:

Medical Appointments on the Web, an initiative of the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, dramatically improves patient care and convenience by taking TRICARE, the Department of Defense managed health care program, a step further. Currently, patients schedule specialty appointments by visiting the clinic in person, navigating an understaffed call center, or waiting for mail notification. This project is a Web-based tool that allows clinic staff to schedule multiple appointments for their patients before the initial appointment is even concluded. Further, the appointments tool was designed to integrate seamlessly into existing clinical systems that lacked this functionality. This pilot was so successful that it was selected in March 2002 by the Service Deputy Surgeons General to be fully funded and deployed. It will be released to all the medical facilities in the DON, U.S. Army, and U.S. Air Force.

The United States Marine Corps Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle program executed the Global Amphibious Total On-Line Resource (GATOR) Link pilot. This pilot successfully demonstrated the use of commercially available satellite telecommunications and Internet technologies to reduce costs, improve maintenance and supply responsiveness, and increase combat readiness. GATOR Link demonstrated online spare parts ordering, Internet technical manual updates, repair before failure diagnostic sensors, and live voice and video-conferencing between onboard mechanics and remote engineers.

Smart Web Move, an initiative of Fleet Industry Supply Center, San Diego, is a Web-based tool to assist DON personnel in arranging household goods shipments incident to receiving permanent change of station (PCS) orders. Smart Web Move transforms the PCS process. It is always open and reduces processing time over 50 percent through the elimination of time consuming office visits and personal interviews.

RF Container is a Naval Supply Systems Command project that uses wireless technologies to track engine containers and monitor conditions within those containers. This will reduce the loss of assets (containers and engines) due to misidentification or contamination, and avoid maintenance to correct unnecessary corrosion damage.

Maps and Charts, a Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet project, is a Web-based Geospatial Information and Services management tool. It will replace the current message-based process and reduce chart allowance review cycle time from four-and-half months to five days. Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet and the Defense Logistics Agency have cooperated with this pilot thus creating common operating procedures for both Fleets.

Deployment Logistics Program CD ROM is a project of Navy Regional Contracting Center, London. It consolidates overseas business, logistics, and port visit information. Eventually, this will become a Web-based tool for managing tailored theatre logistics information.

Pay and Personnel Ashore, a Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet project, demonstrated that shipboard administrative service levels can be maintained or improved while processing all personnel, pay, and travel functions ashore. This proof of concept is important as future ship classes transition to reduced manning levels.

Web-based Automated Confidential Financial Disclosure was conducted by the United States Marine Corps Systems Command. This project implemented a secure, Web-based, confidential financial disclosure process. The project demonstrated the feasibility of digital workflow (processing times were reduced by 50 percent) and of digital signatures that satisfy the requirements of the Office of Government Ethics.

James Knox is on the DON CIO eBusiness Team.

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