In this month's SIGNAL Magazine, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), makes some interesting points about the new Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) that will be replacing the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) once the contract for the latter expires. Grace wonders if this is the best approach, noting the general success of the NMCI after the early years of growing pains. His notion is that we will have to endure another long round of troubleshooting with the NGEN, and he wonders whether this is the best use of resources (not to mention taxpayer money) given that the NMCI has resolved most of its early problems, at least as far as it could have "within the constraints of policy, procedure and security-three very difficult masters," according to Grace.
Ten years later, the NMCI contract has expired and the continuity of service agreement is in place, so the Navy and Marine Corps are moving toward NGEN. It is interesting now that these services are struggling to find that same government talent to implement the transfer of the exact same system from the hands of industry back into the control and management of the government. It seems like an extremely expensive drill that was just completed in the opposite direction.
The Navy spent the first three to four years of the NMCI program changing the desktop from control of the government to the management of industry. Now it appears that it is on the verge of spending a few years shifting the desktop back to the other side of the desk, from industry management to government control.
Is this a good use of taxpayer money? I think not. Sometimes we get it just about right, and the NMCI approach may be one of those times.
For more on the history of the NMCI and the implications of the NGEN, read With NGEN, It's Déjà Vu All Over Again and let us know your thoughts below.