It’s been almost two years since I visited the USS OAK HILL (LSD 51) to experience a “day in the life of a JO” and get a true deckplate perspective on the impact the administrative programs we use on our ships have on our LPOs, LCPOs, DIV (O)s, and DHs. That visit, and subsequent discussions on other Fleet units, prompted me to direct a comprehensive review of all software applications being used in the Fleet today. Additionally, I directed CYBERFOR to take a good, hard look at how we could establish a much more robust governance model to ensure we deliver effective tools that meet the standards our Sailors need and expect from us.
This comprehensive review, the “Fleet FAM effort,” was initially led by RADM Meek and now continues under RDML Herbert’s leadership at Navy Cyber Forces. We had some initial setbacks as we tried to get our arms around this complex problem, but the Fleet FAM team has since made steady and meaningful progress toward unwinding the effects of over two decades of undisciplined software management in the Fleet. I want to share some of the updates with you that I recently received from RDML Herbert and get your feedback on what you think we can or should be doing differently.
First, her team is making good progress with identifying and fixing the applications that are currently fielded in the Fleet. They’ve already assessed 568 of the 945 applications originally identified in the Fleet FAM baseline software application list. Each application is thoroughly reviewed for a valid requirement before a final determination is made to keep, kill, fix or sunset the program. The team is on pace to finish the application review by the end of this year.
Second, to assist with the review, RDML Herbert assembled a Fleet Application Solutions Team (FAST) of IT experts to visit ships and hear firsthand from our Sailors about any problems or difficulties they’re experiencing with the applications they’re required to use. This team is probably the most critical piece in this effort because they are pulling in feedback directly from our end-users on the deckplates.
Third, RDML Herbert is holding a combined Numbered Fleet N6 and Fleet FAM conference this month to bring together the experts in the Fleet to discuss many of the big issues we’ve discovered so far and how we can most effectively employ best practices to manage the tools we have today. Now, RDML Herbert fully understands my concerns about conferences and off-sites (these events are not simply a vacation from the office) and she has assured me she will make full use of everyone’s time and drive the team to produce tangible and relevant outputs that we can implement today to ease the burden on the Fleet and help our Sailors do their jobs.
Finally, RDML Herbert recently released several messages, the first addressing program management responsibilities for shipboard application configuration management and control, and the second providing Fleet best practices for maintaining baseline configuration control. In addition, a Fleet FAM instruction is in the works now and should be released later this month. These messages are a big step in the right direction, but we need to ensure the intended audiences are in receipt of, and acting on, the guidance provided (more on this in a future post!).
I told you when we started this effort that it would take a long and steady commitment from all of us to reverse the damage caused by so many years of undisciplined software management in the Fleet and by the many entities who were able to deliver software applications to the Fleet. There is still much to do, but I’m encouraged by our team’s progress and look forward to hearing more about what they learn from our Sailors during their ship visits.
All the best, JCHjr