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Pentagon: Navy and Marines Must Use DISA Email Cloud

Pentagon CIO Teri Takai designated the Defense Enterprise Email service operated by DISA as an enterprise service.

Pentagon CIO Teri Takai designated the Defense Enterprise Email service operated by DISA as an enterprise service. // Defense Department file photo

After treating email as a core service on their domestic intranet for the past 13 years, the Navy and Marines must now shift to a cloud service operated by the Defense Information System Agency under a new Defense Department policy.

Last month, Pentagon Chief Information Officer Teri Takai designated the Defense Enterprise Email service operated by DISA as an enterprise service and directed all Defense components to develop a DEE plan within 120 days, with moves to the DISA cloud in Oct 2014.

A Pentagon spokeswoman told Nextgov this policy applies to the Navy and Marines, which have tightly coupled email with their existing Navy Marine Corps Intranet, or NMCI, and the follow-on Next-Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN, slated to replace NMCI and serve 800,000 users in the spring of 2014.

Navy CIO Terry Halvorsen is on travel and unable to comment on the mandate to shift Navy and Marine email to the DEE. Marine CIO Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally has publicly stated his opposition to using the DISA cloud. At a DISA conference in May 2012,  he said  senior Marine officers  have told him they will figuratively shoot him in the chest “if you make me go to @mail.mil.”

The Air Force said on Oct. 2 that it plans to move 150,000 classified email accounts to the DISA cloud this year. Gen. William L. Shelton, who heads the Air Force Space Command, said the service still has concerns about the “cost efficiencies” of moving unclassified email to the DISA cloud.

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting said he expected the Navy and Marines would go along with the mandate to use the DEE, despite “a history of Navy resistance to enterprise-level initiatives.”

Suss said it is “very significant” that the Navy and Marines are being required to move their email to the DEE. “It means enterprise initiatives will take hold across Defense,” he said, and it cements the role of DISA as the enterprise service provider for Defense well beyond its traditional network operations.

Suss said that such a massive shift of email accounts will at first hit the services and DISA with unexpected costs, which he said will be made up in the future by economies of scale.

The Army completed its move of 1.43 million unclassified email accounts and 115,000 classified accounts to DEE in August and said it expected to save $76 million this year and $380 million through 2017 by using the DISA cloud rather than running its own email systems. On Wednesday DISA said it had moved 10,000 email accounts in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and 2,000 in the U.S. Southern Command

Suss said the Navy and Marines will need to execute a technical change order with the NGEN contract holder, as email was a core service on that contract. The Navy awarded HP Enterprise Services a $3.5 billion contract on June 27.  Harris and Computer Sciences Corp. protested the award to the Government Accountabilty Office on July 15, and Computer Sciences withdrew its protest on August 26.

GAO was supposed to decide the Harris protest by Oct. 23, but the government shutdown has delayed all GAO protest rulings.

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