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Security for Security's Sake Is Just Going Through the Motions

August 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

Last year, as the April 15 tax deadline approached, I realized that I did not have my W-2 statement from the Navy Reserve. I knew it was no problem because all of that information was “easily” available at MY-PAY online. That was simple—“simple” being a very relative term—when I had a Common Access Card (CAC) and reader. However, as a retired 0-6 without a CAC, there was no “simple” button available to make this process work.

Partnership Is a Two-Way Street, and No One Should Claim Right of Way

July 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

We want partners—not vendors.” All of the government-industry days, procurement updates or program reviews offer the constant call for industry to “be our partner, bring us innovation; work with us to enhance the capability for the warfighter or the ultimate end user.” Yet, partnership is a two-way street. Partnership involves communication, open and transparent management of expectations, honest relationships and decisions that allow both sides to manage their requirements. Partnership is not just a word. It takes work to achieve win-win situations—for each side to treat the other with respect and to make good decisions quickly to minimize cost for both sides.

It's the Process, Stupid—or Is It the Stupid Process?

June 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

A week ago, I spent three nights in the hospital with my 17-year-old son, who was suffering from severe headaches and uncontrolled nausea. One test after another revealed nothing, and we ended up with a diagnosis of, “Get him some rest, keep something down and hydrate him with IVs [intravenous fluids], and we’ll see.” Needless to say, his dad—a trained submarine nuclear officer and former chief information officer of Navy Medicine—was ready to stand the watch in the hospital. “Get him some rest and fluids…”—a simple assignment—or so it seemed.

Why We Do What We Do—“Corpsman Up”

May 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

With our military stretched among three fronts, our volunteer force is bearing a tremendous burden of OPTEMPO, reduced budgets and political posturing. A recent experience I had with our disabled veterans highlighted the reasons why we do what we do. It may be a good reminder to us all.

Reinventing the Wheel, IT-Style?

April 25, 2011
By H. Mosher

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.

With NGEN, It's Déjà Vu All Over Again

April 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

In the late 1990s, the U.S. Navy decided it needed to change the way it handled information technology. So, it created the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, or NMCI. Yes, for many, it was seen as a four-letter word. With the NMCI, the Navy elected to outsource the entire program to industry—the company EDS. The process took many years of study and analysis, as well as dealing with policy, procedure, culture wars and a host of other common barriers to any new concept. From congressional oversight to acquisition nightmare, every potential roadblock emerged. Yet, the NMCI was implemented, and one lesson from that implementation applies very much today as the Navy seeks to upgrade its information technology.

Facing the Strange Changes

March 2, 2011
By H. Mosher

In this month's Incoming column, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), discusses the difficulties of change, whether it involves renovating his home or upgrading government information technology. He asks, "What is the proverbial air conditioner in our government and business systems that we are not willing to move, even though it would make everything work? Did we invest in a technology a few years ago that now doesn't scale, but we are not willing to move from our previous decision and continue to throw good money at a wrong decision?"

What Is the Air Conditioner We're Not Willing to Move?

March 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

For the past 15 years, my family has been in an ongoing love-hate relationship with our 110-year-old historic New Orleans home, and we recently decided it finally was time to do “the big one” and renovate it. Do we move out or do we live with the mess? Can we still operate with some sanity and functionality in the house while we’re making the changes? What about our budget, managing the architecture and requirements of historic preservation?

Incoming: No More 8-Tracks

February 2, 2011
By H. Mosher

This month, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.) likens the state of government technology to that of an 8-track tape player--"now DIACAP-certified, ruggedized, encrypted and able to be thrown out of the car window at 60 miles per hour unharmed"--in an iPod world, thanks to a bloated procurement process.

Time for Government to Dump its 8-Tracks

February 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

In the early 1970s, the music industry was transformed by the arrival of a practical solution to mobile music—the 8-track player. The world embraced this technology, which infected car stereos, home entertainment systems, portable players and lifestyles. While transformational, this technology soon was replaced by the cassette, followed by CDs and audio DVDs until Apple came out with the iPod—another game-changing technology. The market has created many forms of iPod docking stations for cars, clock radios, entertainment systems, airplane seats, pillows and every possible application. Uses include photos, FM radio, podcasts, videoconferencing and Wi-Fi. This technology is significantly smaller, faster, more comprehensive, more capable and inherently more user-friendly than its 8-track progenitor. The same lessons from this progression can be applied to command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) and government information technology.


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