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CHIPS Articles: Dr. John A. Zangardi Discusses NGEN, CANES and IT Cost Savings

Dr. John A. Zangardi Discusses NGEN, CANES and IT Cost Savings
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for C4I, IO, and Space
By CHIPS Magazine - July-September 2014
Dr. John A. Zangardi assumed the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Command, Control, Communications, Computer Systems, and Intelligence, Information Operations and Space (DASN C4I, IO, and Space) in March of 2011. In this capacity, he provides executive oversight on all Department of Navy business enterprise, information technology acquisition and all space related acquisition. In his oversight role, he coordinates with key stakeholders to maximize alignment with Navy and Marine Corps needs.

Dr. Zangardi responded to questions in writing in July.

Q: The Department of the Navy recently accelerated its move to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract by almost 90 days at a savings to the Navy of about $20 million per month once the move to NGEN is complete, according to Capt. Michael N. Abreu, program manager of the Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) Program Office (PMW 205). This is a great news IT story for the Department of the Navy.

A: I agree that it is a great news story, however, any great news story, especially in enterprise IT, does not just happen on its own accord. A tremendous amount of effort went into developing the plan to transition from the Continuity of Services Contract (CoSC) to NGEN. At the front end of the NGEN program, the team spent a tremendous amount of time hammering out the requirements for the system. We needed to ensure we got the requirements right, and then followed that with the strategy for how we would procure it. PMW 205 rightly deserves a boatload of credit as do many others from the DON CIO, fleet, resource sponsor and SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command).

Accelerating the move to NGEN by 90 days was essential. The NGEN contract was awarded to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in June 2013, but progress was delayed by a protest of the award. In the end, the protests were denied but at a cost of approximately 90 days. The protest delay could have delayed achieving the savings the NGEN contract provides because we would have been operating under the older, more costly CoSC contract. Time equates to cost. However, PEO EIS worked closely with HP to reduce the transition time from 12 months to 9 months, keeping completion on time.

Q2: What is different about NGEN?

A: A significant difference is cost. We are paying less. The result of the NGEN contract award is more than $1 billion in savings over the next five years. That’s very impressive given the inherent complexity of this endeavor.

A big part of the strategy was leveraging the commercial industrial base for IT services. To achieve those savings we spent a lot of time working with industry, casting a wide net looking for best practices and for the best ideas out there. We arrived at what we refer to as a segmented approach. That approach will enable the re-competing of single or multiple segments in a future option year. The potential for competition is built into the contract.

We also put a heavy weight on what small businesses can bring to the fight. There’s a 35 percent small business requirement. That means that for the 35 percent of the dollars that go towards NGEN, the prime contractor is required to work with small businesses. We believe that will make a significant difference in bringing that innovation and increased affordability to the system.

NGEN will allow [the] Navy and the Marine Corps to better address cyber threats. This contract ensures that there is no backslide on security. The department will continuously identify, evaluate, and implement new capabilities. The result is improved security that enhances our ability to pace the threat and to respond to the future cyber environment in a rapid manner.

The NGEN contract’s flexibility and ability to respond to change will be increasingly important as the Joint Information Environment (JIE) develops. JIE represents a fundamental shift in the way DoD will deliver its services and capabilities globally. NGEN will enable the Department of the Navy to follow an evolutionary path to JIE leveraging life cycle maintenance or technical refresh. As technical standards become available, NGEN will procure and execute to those standards.

NGEN delivers. It delivered savings. It will also deliver agility, adaptability and flexibility. It is what the Department of Navy needs now in enterprise IT.

Q: Beginning in 2010, the Navy has reduced business IT spending by $2 billion over the FYDP. Are there more opportunities for IT cost-savings and how will they be achieved?

A: Ensuring that the Department of the Navy meets the mark and achieves those savings is where our focus is. Generally speaking, through efficiency initiatives, the DON seeks to standardize, streamline and improve business IT resources by leveraging commercial technology and adjusting acquisition approaches. Examples of this include:

  • Data center consolidations. The object is to reduce the DON’s IT footprint. Fewer data centers and hosting fewer applications means fewer dollars spent on labor, power and buildings.
  • System modernizations. A full replacement of a system is not always necessary. We are looking at upgrading or modernizing where it makes sense rather than full replacements.
  • Enterprise Software Licensing Agreements. Savings have been already achieved. Continuing to combine our software buys makes sense to maximize buying power.

Q: In view of the unrelenting cyber attacks and physical security issues the Navy is facing is it realistic to plan that IT costs can go down?

A: Yes, I think it is very realistic. Our NGEN Navywide approach is about standardizing and modernizing our IT footprint to give us the flexibility and network maneuverability needed to attack cyber threats head on. With a standardized and modernized IT infrastructure we can leverage the best of industry to drive out cost for the entire network (afloat, ashore, and aloft) and make informed choices about where to invest in cyber defense. That does not mean that we will spend less or focus less on cyber under NGEN, CANES, or any other network and application issue. Security remains foremost.

Let me provide an example of what I mean regarding driving out cost. Consolidating data centers and rationalizing applications will reduce costs while at the same time enhancing cyber security. Everyone should agree that fewer, modernized applications that are modernized running on standardized, modern IT infrastructure with fewer servers results in an improved cyber posture. Reduced overall costs and increased security are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Q: The Navy has recently completed the installation of the Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES) system on a number of destroyers. What is the benefit of CANES compared to legacy networks; will it mitigate cyber threats against the Navy's afloat enterprise? How many installations have been completed or are ongoing and will CANES be deployed on all afloat platforms? What is the initial fleet feedback?

A: CANES, the standardized, modern IT infrastructure for afloat platforms, establishes the network as the Navy's Cyber Platform with significant advances in application hosting and system management. For the Navy, CANES creates a new Information Dominance operational posture by greatly reducing information assurance vulnerability risks and centralizing cyber protection operations. CANES provides Sailors and Marines robust system management and cyber situational awareness as well as simplified configuration management.

Importantly, the CANES program has a funded and programmed technology refresh cycle through which it will avoid costly mitigations for end-of-life software and hardware. Additionally, by consolidating five program of record network capabilities into one program, CANES greatly reduces the logistics burden to the Navy by eliminating multiple logistic chains and training pipelines.

CANES installations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 are on track to include meeting production and test dates. [The] PEO C4I and SPAWAR Fleet Readiness Directorate (FRD) are coordinating efforts to meet FY 2015 planning milestones. To date seven installations are complete at four locations. Thirteen installations are in progress across five-ship classes. This system is technically mature.

CANES brings to the afloat C4I environment improved performance and operational capability, increases in cyber readiness, and reductions in network variance. On the cyber front, CANES mitigates cyber vulnerabilities by validating security baselines for patches, bringing active security policy enforcement, and providing over-the-air patching.

Initial fleet feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The Sailors who operate the network have commented repeatedly about CANES' significant system administration functions and the ease with which they can operate the network. As with any new system, we are overcoming some growing pains, but by and large, the fleet has been exceptionally happy with CANES.

I want to mention one last thing about the CANES program. CANES not only provides the fleet an improved network capability, truly integrated applications, and significant increases to network security, but it also has saved the U.S. Navy over $900 million through its acquisition cycle. That’s $900 million out of a $12 billion-dollar program.

Q: In this budget-constrained environment, what are your top priorities?

A: Ronald Reagan said “Information is the oxygen of the modern age.” I believe that is truer today than when he said that back in the 1980s. I think that means keeping the trains running on time in an environment where there is continual pressure to do more with less. We need to be open to innovation and different ways of doing things. Most importantly, we need to recognize, understand and address risk, be it cyber-related or otherwise. We must weigh heavily considerations, such as increased cyber threats, and ensure any new technology or program will not provide a vulnerability to our network.

Dr. John A. Zangardi, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Command, Control, Communications, Computer Systems, and Intelligence, Information Operations and Space (DASN C4I, IO, and Space)
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