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CHIPS Articles: Q & A with Laura Knight

Q & A with Laura Knight
PEO-EIS Sea Warrior Program Manager
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2012
The Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) is the primary information technology (IT) acquisition agent for nontactical business operations addressing manpower, personnel, training and education (MPTE) capability gaps, legacy systems, and Distance Support to the fleet. The program's role is to modernize Navy human resources (HR) management systems and afloat business IT used by Sailors, the fleet, and the Navy Enterprise in response to functional requirements. To that end, Sea Warrior is a "program of programs," managing a complex portfolio of 33 systems across five product lines in support of four sponsors: OPNAV N1 (Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education), N2/N6 (Information Dominance), N4 (Fleet Readiness/Logistics) and the Director of Navy Staff. The program is part of the Navy Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) within the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).

CHIPS attended a presentation by Ms. Laura Knight, Sea Warrior program manager, as part of the SPAWAR Speaker Series at the West Conference in January and asked her about the Navy's human resources systems modernization and key challenges associated with enterprise integration. Ms. Knight responded in writing in April.

Q: Can you describe what the Sea Warrior program is? On a typical day how would a Sailor use the systems that are supported by the Sea Warrior Program?

A: In 2006, the Chief of Naval Personnel requested that the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition appoint the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) as the lead for affordable business IT delivery and incremental capabilities. The Sea Warrior Program (PEO-EIS PMW 240) began operating in September 2007 with the mission of coordinating manpower, personnel, training and education (MPTE) IT development, acquisition, and life cycle maintenance under a single systems command and program office.

This was important because the MPTE businesses were merged to form the Navy's single manpower resource sponsor, called Navy Total Force. Today, the Sea Warrior Program Office manages a complex portfolio of 33 major IT systems used to recruit, train, pay, promote, move, retire and support Navy personnel ashore and afloat. Also, a large percentage of our systems are used corporately for manpower planning and readiness.

In a nutshell, our role is about partnering with our OPNAV sponsors and functional business leaders to build and deploy IT solutions to enable the Navy to get the Sailors into the fight while supporting their welfare, careers and families.

With regard to your second question, our IT products touch Sailors every day. Let's start with Navy eLearning (NeL). NeL is a distance learning capability that includes online courses, multimedia content, a learning management system ashore, and a learning management system afloat that provides 24/7/365 on-demand access to course offerings for active duty and Reserve military, civilians and contractors. It’s one of the largest distance learning implementations in the world with more than 900,000 users and 6,500 online courses.

The afloat learning management system, called the Afloat Integrated Learning Environment (AILE) operates on 233 deployed platforms. Since NeL was first launched in 2000, the system has logged nearly 25 million course completions.

Also in the training and education business area, we have Navy Knowledge Online, the largest Navy portal with over 1 million registered users. About 92 percent of active duty and 73 percent of Reserve personnel use NKO. And as a corporate example, the Navy Training Management and Planning System (NTMPS) collectively generates 300,000 Sailor training readiness reports per month for use by the fleet. NTMPS also includes the Electronic Training Jacket that is used by all Sailors in preparation for boards and career development.

In the career and manpower management area, Sailors use the Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID) to submit their own job applications via the Internet. CMS/ID has given Sailors more direct control over their orders while reducing manual paperwork for career counselors and detailers, saving time and money. An average of 16,500 applications per month come through CMS/ID.

We’re also supporting modernization in the recruiting and accessions business area. The Personalized Recruiting for Immediate and Delayed Enlistment Modernization, or PRIDE MOD, supports the Recruiting Command’s real-time business process for managing recruiting by providing full Web-enabled communication with Navy and DoD partners across all aspects of the accession process.

PRIDE MOD lets five different applications, including the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command’s system, ‘talk to one another’ almost instantly via the Web and a shared data environment. PRIDE is now processing about 6,000 recruiting applications per month.

Afloat business IT is also a large part of our portfolio. Currently under the umbrella of Distance Support, we provide and maintain the IT infrastructure and capabilities to provide at-sea logistics, technical and training support to afloat units. This includes Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which includes communications media, contact centers, a directory and network of service and support providers, websites, an action reporting (and tracking) IT system, and associated fleet customer advocacy provisions.

Navy Distance Support also deploys a number of applications on a single shipboard software suite called the Navy Information/Application Product Suite. NIAPS is helpful to Sailors at sea in mitigating bandwidth limitations by having software applications run locally on the ship. NIAPS also allows applications to store data and transactions and then to transmit that data ship-to-shore when network access is limited or intermittent by scheduling scheduling transmissions during off-peak times and also by allowing data transfers to start again where they previously ended when connectivity was lost.

To make it easier for Sailors and the fleet to get help while afloat, we are rebranding the Navy Distance Support CRM to Navy 311. This new effort is built upon the non-emergency telephone number 3-1-1 in cities across the U.S. and Canada that provides quick access to services via a centralized call center. There are about 90 such service outlets operating in the U.S. In like manner, Navy 311 will simplify the ashore reach-back capability available to the fleet via an easy-to-remember, single point of entry for any issue the fleet encounters.

Q: Why is it so challenging to update the systems in the Sea Warrior Program?

A: There are multiple challenges on multiple levels. First, on the technical level, the MPTE domain consists of approximately 51 systems, 741 applications and 240,000 data elements that have evolved over 30 to 40 years. Consequently, these systems can’t share data electronically, so we’ve been maintaining about 2,000 different interfaces. Plus, significant business logic and rules are hard-coded within these applications and are redundant across systems. Given these issues, the MPTE ‘system of systems’ has become complex, inflexible and expensive to maintain and operate.

So, we’re working with our business and requirements stakeholders to modernize technology that is fast approaching or well beyond the end of its intended useful life. There are many dimensions to making improvements, but key is migrating from mainframe-based computing to Web-enabled applications hosted in Navy data centers. This will reduce the expense of large platforms and allow for more responsive and cost-effective technology modernizations.

Related to systems, of course, is the challenge of harnessing our siloed business data while ensuring its security. Protecting personnel data is of paramount importance, therefore the DoD and Navy management controls are more stringent than commonly employed using commercial Web 2.0 technologies. A data consolidation effort within OPNAV N1 is underway called the Authoritative Data Environment/Authoritative Data Warehouse (ADE/ADW). This effort is focused on establishing a single operational store of personnel data that is authoritative, verifiable, and easily accessible to authorized people and applications. The ADE/ADW is a significant undertaking.

For example, the Navy Personnel Database currently contains source data on 1.75 million Navy members and annuitants that is exchanged across thousands of interfaces. The long-term goal is to move to a fully integrated data environment built on a service oriented architecture, which is foundational to delivering net-centric data services to the Navy enterprise.

Finally, there are numerous cultural and governance challenges. In the past, commands with a software development competence and funding could enhance applications when and how they needed. Today, those of us responsible for the systems engineering supporting the Navy’s business mission, are taking an enterprise-wide view of IT effectiveness and efficiency.

We look at how modernization benefits both the end user and the overall performance of the Navy enterprise before any taxpayer dollars are committed. We are supporting the Department of Defense, and driving a management culture that analyzes the business case for each change and measures the payback of each IT investment. This means we work very closely with the end users and stakeholders impacted by the change so all parties can understand the impacts, benefits and tradeoffs.

Q: Can you talk about the manpower, personnel, training and education portal initiative that you are working on? Did you say that it would be integrated into the Navy Knowledge Online portal?

A: The Navy envisions an integrated HR portal as a self-service environment for Sailors, and so the portal is an integral of the Navy’s personnel and pay modernization effort. The MPTE portal will enable Sailors to view their personnel information relevant to their service history, records and benefits; collaborate among communities of practice; and interact with Navy customer service centers.

We’re in the early stages of planning and designing a new consolidated MPTE portal. Industry and government benchmarks indicated that getting to a single, consolidated portal can be a long journey over many years. The MPTE portal vision is to provide a secure, reliable, single point of entry for all Navy HR content and business applications.

As you might imagine, much work lays ahead to design the portal look and feel, integrate applications, enable online community collaboration and authenticate users. A first step is to replace the technical infrastructure of Navy Knowledge Online. The NKO tech refresh will provide a more stable and flexible platform that can support today’s interactive portal functionality, self-service delivery and workflow management needs. NKO eventually will be rebranded and migrate into the consolidated portal. We expect to submit the MPTE Portal Investment Review Board package in the spring for certification, and begin work no later than early FY13.

Q: You mentioned in your brief at the conference that there is about $15 million available for R&D for modernizing the legacy systems in the Sea Warrior program. What kind of technology improvements are you anticipating?

A:In keeping with our portfolio modernization strategy, our approach is to improve core IT within each line of business so we can move the Navy’s HR business off its aging technology infrastructure. By reducing our legacy IT footprint we’ll achieve business efficiencies such part as reducing overlapping functionality, migrating software off the mainframe, and eliminating unnecessary reports.

We are continuing to work with our sponsors and functional owners as they clarify requirements and determine how we allocate development and modernization funding. Some current examples include the PRIDE MOD Phase II effort, a new Learning Management System to support Navy eLearning, the NKO technology refresh, and Billet Based Distribution using CMS/ID.

Q: Can you talk about how work is progressing in support of the Personalized Recruiting for Immediate and Delayed Enlistment system?

A: The PRIDE system is one of six legacy systems supporting the mission of the Navy Recruiting Command (NRC). PRIDE supports the Navy’s processes of bringing new recruits into the service and assigning them to Navy positions. With phase I of PRIDE MOD in operation, NRC now seamlessly shares accessions data with the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command, Recruit Training Command and Navy Personnel Command.

The PRIDE MOD II capabilities being considered include electronic forms technology, positive applicant identification via biometrics, workflow management tools for paperless processing, and integration of officer and enlisted active and Reserve component processes. We’re currently working to release the Request for Proposal for PRIDE MOD II.

Q: At the brief you also indicated that there was a change coming in the continuity of operations planning (COOP) for MPTE systems housed at the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn. I think you said the physical infrastructure would be moving to San Diego?

A: PMW 240 is coordinating the effort to establish a continuity of operations capability for the Navy Personnel Command and the Navy Recruiting Command in Millington, Tenn. Initially the effort is focused on data replication and disaster recovery. The actual COOP site is at the SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific’s San Diego data center.

For the past two years, flooding disasters have hit the Millington area and securing the data and providing access to the systems and information during a disaster is a high priority within the Navy. The COOP capability will come online in March 2012 with a full operational capability by September 2012.

Q: Can you talk about the significant milestones coming up in the Future Pay and Personnel Solution system?

A: The Navy Personnel and Pay Modernization effort (formerly FPPS) is a portfolio investment strategy not a large development program to acquire a new IT system. This decision was made following completion of the Integrated Personnel and Pay Solution-Navy (IPPS-N) CONOPS (concept of operations) and a capabilities-based assessment.

As part of this strategy, the Navy has chosen to leverage its investment in the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS), along with making multiple, incremental modernization investments to the human resources IT portfolio. This will let us avoid the pitfalls, expense and delays of a large program while making ongoing improvements to the services that Sailors use daily.

With regard to milestones, we have started three business process initiatives (BPIs) as risk reduction efforts. In addition, the first development/modernization increment will be for active and Reserve retirements and separations. We expect that most of the effort will be implemented in NSIPS, which currently supports over 400,000 Sailors afloat and ashore, contains 1.5 million Sailor records, and interfaces with 32 other systems.

Concurrent with the NSIPS design for active and Reserve retirements and separations, the Navy is examining the business processes associated with military pay, which may result in a new program effort in about 2015. A key near-term transition goal is to establish effective internal control over the Navy’s $31 billion in enlisted and Reserve manpower accounts to meet financial improvement and audit readiness requirements.

Finally, I mentioned earlier the ADE/ADW, and this is a core part of the personnel and pay modernization effort. The ADE/ADW activities consist of data cleansing, governance, interface standards and management, all of which reduce risk before making major IT investments. The BPIs will be the first personnel modernization test case for the ADE/ADW, exercising the governance and the technical concepts.

In summary, the near-term FY12-FY13 acquisition effort comprises concurrent initiatives supported by development/modernization and sustainment funding. Alongside our functional counterparts, we are committed to making our Sailors’ lives and jobs easier through better, more accessible IT.

The Sea Warrior Program Office (PMW 240) manages a complex portfolio of 33 major IT systems used to recruit, train, pay, promote, move, retire and support Navy personnel ashore and afloat. Sailors depend on the IT products managed modernized by PMW 240 to manage their careers, train and get paid.

  • Navy eLearning (NeL) – accessible 24/7/365, 900,000 users, 6,500 online courses.
  • Afloat Integrated Learning Environment (AILE) operates on 233 deployed platforms. Since NeL was first launched in 2000, the system has logged nearly 25 million course completions.
  • Personalized Recruiting for Immediate and Delayed Enlistment Modernization (PRIDE MOD) processes about 6,000 Navy applications per month.
  • Navy Knowledge Online, the largest Navy portal, more than 1 million registered users.
  • Navy Training Management and Planning System (NTMPS) collectively generates 300,000 Sailor training readiness reports per month for use by the fleet. NTMPS includes the Electronic Training Jacket.
  • Sailors use the Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID) to submit job applications via the Internet. An average of 16,500 applications travel through the system per month.
  • The Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) supports more than 400,000 Sailors afloat and ashore and contains 1.5 million records.
  • New Navy 3-1-1 capability will simplify ashore reach-back available to the fleet via an easy-to-remember, single point of entry for any issue the fleet encounters.

Sea Warrior Program Public Affairs Office - Email: or phone: (703) 604-5400.

Laura Knight
Laura Knight
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