Union denounces Navy intranet plan

klunney@govexec.com

The largest federal employee union said Friday that the multibillion dollar Navy/Marine Corps intranet plan poses a risk to national security.

Brendan Danaher, policy analyst for the national office of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), denounced the Navy and Marine Corps' five-year effort to develop an extensive intranet system under one service provider for its workforce as an "ill-conceived plan" and a "boondoggle."

Four industry bidders are vying for the Navy contract, which will be awarded in June. AFGE wants information technology work to remain in the hands of federal workers. Danaher said an outside corporation should not have access to all Navy and Marine Corps data, particularly in an era filled with computer security fears.

"Public employees are in shock that their government and their military are willing to risk national security to engage in an ill-conceived program that is a nightmare waiting to happen," Danaher said.

AFGE also took issue with the Navy's lack of thorough project analysis, criticizing the agency for purposefully going to outside contractors to avoid in-house scrutiny. Danaher also expressed concern over funding for the project, echoing the sentiments of critics in Congress. There are concerns on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that funds will be taken from non-technology projects and used to pay for the intranet.

The Navy contends that the intranet will improve communications and thus improve readiness. Navy leaders have pledged to keep Congress and critics fully apprised of project developments.

Danaher says the union wants the Navy to re-evaluate the intranet plan. But the Navy hopes to have the intranet fully operational by December 2001. "Why would the Navy be interested in putting national security at risk when there are so many obvious problems with this plan?" he said.

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