Earlier this year I wrote about my visit to the USS OAK HILL (LSD 51) during which the crew gave me a candid overview of the many administrative tools they use every day to get the job done. That visit, and subsequent discussions with other Fleet units, prompted me to take a deeper look into the way our Navy manages its portfolio of software applications in the Fleet. During my review, I found that we were doing a poor job of adhering to any type of controlled process for deploying, sustaining and replacing our software tools in the Fleet. In short, our governance model was ineffective.
As a result, when I last updated you in April, I let you know that I would oversee a comprehensive review of all our software applications being used in the Fleet today as well as take a good, hard look at how we could establish a more robust governance model to ensure we deliver effective tools that meet the standards our Sailors need and expect from us.
We’ve been very busy digging into this issue the past few months and I want to provide you with an update on what we’ve accomplished and where we’re heading.
RADM Meek and his team at Navy CYBERFOR have been leading a team from OPNAV, the SYSCOMs and the Fleet through a two-pronged approach to find and fix the problems we are having with our software tools and applications today and to ensure far better configuration management in the future.
Their first effort has been to identify all the software applications currently in use in the Fleet and come up with a recommendation to keep, kill or fix each one. This effort has certainly been no easy task as we have identified over 170 separate applications in use today. In some cases, we’ve found tools that have multiple versions fielded in the Fleet today (up to 5 in some cases!). As RADM Meek’s team works through the list, I have instructed them to ensure that every software application is reviewed with the end-user, our Sailor, in mind. If a tool is ineffective or causes an unnecessary burden on our Sailors, we need to get rid of it. If it helps the Fleet, then we need to make sure our Sailors have the resources to effectively use it (current software versions, adequate training and out-year support). The final list of recommended apps to keep/kill/fix will be presented to ADM Walsh and me for decision later this month.
RADM Meek’s team is also working on a second effort in parallel to design a Fleet IT governance model that puts the necessary configuration management controls in place to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Part of the reason we ended up in our current situation is that we have had far too many organizations (at least 21) approving too many applications for deployment in the Fleet with no overarching strategy and insufficient sustainability. As a result, once a tool is deployed, too often it is left to our Sailors to figure out how to properly use and maintain it. As a result, we have created an environment where many of our software tools have actually hindered, rather than facilitated, the tasks our Sailors are required to do to execute their missions. The new governance model will have as its focus the goal that no tools enter the Fleet without a full and thorough technical compatibility review and fully funded training and sustainment plans. I do not intend to add time-consuming, bureaucratic layers to the process, but I do believe that we owe it to our Sailors to make sure we’re doing our part by delivering and properly sustaining the tools they need and require from us.
There is no shortage of work being done right now to take these issues on and fix them. RADM Meek and his team are doing an outstanding job leading the way and I have full confidence in their plan. But it’s important that we all realize that we did not get where we are overnight and so we will certainly not be able to fix all the problems overnight. We're going to need a controlled and dedicated effort to get us back on track…and I believe we have the right team in place to get us there.
I will provide you with another update later this month after I’ve received the initial list of tools and keep/kill/fix recommendations.
All the best, JCHjr