From NAVSUP Business Systems Center Public Affairs
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- During the 20th century, the rise of analog and digital computers signaled a change in doing business for the Navy, and the integration of computers and programming with logistics management gave birth to a tech-savvy organization now known as Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Business Systems Center (BSC).
“On January 15, 2022, NAVSUP BSC celebrated its 60th anniversary and 60 years of service to the fleet,” said Capt. Gene Cash, commanding officer, NAVSUP BSC. “This major milestone could not be achieved without the steadfast dedication and commitment of our past and present military and civilian workforce.”
“Through years of technological advances, our missions, functions, and tasks have changed to meet the needs of the Navy. Today, we are focused on providing information technology (IT) business solutions that power supply chains and enable readiness for our Sailors and the fleet,” said Cash.
Established January 15, 1962, as Navy Fleet Material Support Office (FMSO), and later renamed Navy Supply Information Systems Activity (NAVSISA) and ultimately NAVSUP BSC, the command was commissioned to provide central systems management for the retail portion of the Navy Stock Fund. The fund was a vehicle used to obtain supplies from the Defense Supply Agency, General Services Administration, and other U.S. military branches.
The inaugural crew was charged with evaluating supply support and coordinating efforts of inventory control points in the preparation of allowance and load lists for all supply support materials aboard ships and at overseas bases.
During the 1960s, the command focused efforts on systems automation using technology such as wired boards, punch cards, magnetic tapes, flat files, and UNIVAC 490 computers.
Military and civilian technicians worked together integrating material management items that required data processing, coding criteria, and coordination of technical functions related to transferred items for supply management.
In 1965, FMSO was designated as the Central Design Agency responsible for the automation of Navy inventory control and stock points. They implemented Uniform Automated Data Processing Systems to perform Navy supply, accounting, financial, and procurement management functions.
On May 1, 1966, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Supplies and Accounting was decommissioned following more than 125 years of service, and NAVSUP Headquarters was established to support the new Chief of Naval Material Command. FMSO experts were now a part of the NAVSUP Enterprise and would set their sights on expanding IT and information management (IM).
By 1967 the workforce grew from five military officers and 56 civilian employees to 34 military and 497 employees. The command included an operations research analysis group, charged with improving Navy supply systems logistic management decisions, and personnel to design and develop international logistics support systems.
“It is very gratifying to observe the vitality and versatility exhibited by FMSO in carrying out the diverse missions for which it is responsible,” stated Rear Adm. Stephen Sherwood, acting commander, NAVSUP, in a 1967 letter to the FMSO commanding officer. “The excellent record of supply support performance by FMSO is in the finest tradition of the Navy and the Supply Corps.”
During the 1970s, the command shifted focus to system standardization using third-generation computer systems, databases, and disk storage. The command worked tirelessly to convert hundreds of previously developed programs to the Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) computer language. In 1972, they assumed design and development responsibility for the Trident Submarine Logistics Data System, a system used to manage maintenance and replenishment of submarines during brief in-port periods. From 1973 to 1978, the crew also maintained the computerized database and associated programs for the Ship’s Maintenance and Material Management program. By the late 1970s, the command’s development role expanded with the responsibility to design financial systems such as the Standard Accounting and Reporting System.
“FMSO is unique because it combines, under one roof, a host of diverse yet complementary functions. All of these functions mesh in concert toward one objective; improved fleet support,” stated Curtis B. Wise, technical assistant to the commanding officer, in a 1972 Navy Supply Corp Newsletter article.
FMSO’s role as a change agent for Navy IT supply systems was well established by the 1980s and ushered in an era for system modernization. The crew focused on replacing obsolete technologies from the ‘60s and ‘70s and expanded office automation capabilities through the installation of local area networks to support personal computers and email. They converted more than 6 million lines of software code to run on modern mainframe computers as part of Resolicitation and Stock Point Automated Data Processing Replacement projects.
“I started working on base in 1976 as a typist creating memos and letters for the Ship’s Allowance Branch,” said Kathleen Chastain, a former NAVSUP BSC employee from 1981 to 2011. “It wasn’t long before I was trained as a programmer and creating batch programs.”
“Initially, each line of code was created using a punch card. Those cards were fed into a computer and consolidated into large paper printouts of programs. A big program could have as many as 1,000 pages for our analysts to look through and correct before it could be run,” said Chastain.
Additional modernization efforts during the ‘80s included the installation of Trident Logistics Data System at Kings Bay, Georgia; implementation of the Automation of Procurement and Accounting Data Entry system at Naval Supply Center Charleston, South Carolina; and implementation of a modernized Management Information System International Logistics at the Navy International Logistics Office.
During the ‘90s, personal computers and the growing power of the internet brought about a technological revolution and period of unprecedented change, challenge, and innovation to the workforce.
FMSO was designated as a Department of Defense Central Design Activity, responsible for the development of standard software systems for use by multiple activities, and became the DOD’s first Central Design Activity to convert operations from mission-funding to a fee-for-service business environment.
This brought new tasking from non-traditional customers such as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and the Joint Logistics Service Center. Logistics systems, including the Computerized Provisioning, Allowance, and Supply System, were developed for foreign military sales customers.
Running parallel with their role to serve as a premier business solutions provider, the command’s military and civilian experts worked diligently to integrate internet-based technologies, and successfully modified and tested more than 19 million lines of code and 25,000 computer programs ahead of the year 2000, nullifying expected issues for systems using two-digit dates.
At the turn of the century, FMSO’s role had significantly changed since their inception in 1962 and the command was renamed NAVSISA on April 29, 2002.
NAVSISA experts integrated commercial software products to replace government-developed software and web-based products to meet customer needs. Successful use of SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software in the Supply Maintenance Aviation Reengineering Team project was a key component to Navy-wide adoption of Navy ERP. Web-based systems such as One-Touch Support, Electronic Retrograde Management System, and Commercial Asset Visibility were achieving large user and industry partner acceptance.
By the end of the decade, NAVSISA’s initiatives lowered NAVSUP IT costs by more than $197 million and their reputation as a Navy leader in server and network reductions and information assurance excellence was well established.
“In the early 2000s, we were focused on how to utilize new technologies and internal business processes to meet requests from our customers and to replace legacy systems,” said Cash, who also served as a project officer for NAVSISA from 2006 to 2009. “The work that was done during this time was invaluable and set NAVSUP BSC up for the success you see today. We can now focus our efforts on aligning our projects with the needs of our mission partners and finding the best solution to support the fleet.”
By 2011, evolved missions throughout the NAVSUP Enterprise prompted a reorganization, and NAVSISA was rebranded as NAVSUP BSC on July 1, 2011.
The experts at NAVSUP BSC incorporated digital practices that eliminated manual processes, improved automation, and ensured the readiness and security of Navy systems.
“NAVSUP BSC began to sunset legacy applications to take advantage of the new opportunities with increasing internet speed and low-code, no-code programming,” said Brian Zirbel, executive director, NAVSUP BSC. “We began to focus efforts on data analytics, adopted agile development processes, stood up the NAVSUP Enterprise Business Office and the Navy ERP Services Department. We integrated Fleet Logistic Center support into departmental lines of business to eliminate stovepipes, take advantage of technical expertise, and capitalize on capabilities across the command. Our workforce quickly adapted to the rapidly changing environment and positioned us well for the demands and needs of the Navy in the following years.”
Today, NAVSUP BSC is known for providing world-class IT/IM solutions through the design, development, and maintenance of systems in the functional areas of logistics, supply chain management, transportation, finance, and accounting.
Technical developers and validators build and analyze processes to ensure people, systems, and data are secure from cyber threats. Experts provide application development, systems management, business and IT consulting, and data life cycle support.
Their skilled workforce continues to pioneer enterprise digital transformation through a myriad of efforts, including development and management of systems such as Navy Data Platform, a standardized business intelligence and data platform that supports Navy supply-chain data-analytic capabilities; Robotic Process Automations, software application robots designed to accelerate business operations and improve Navy supply-chain readiness; Navy Mobile Computing teams that deploy mobile technology to warehouses and deliver improved readiness and accountability to the fleet; and award-winning development of web-based solutions such as NAVSUP Office of Inspector General (IG) Portal, an innovative solution that fully automates IG inspection and remediation processes, eliminates excessive manual efforts and reduces administrative tasks.
In 2020, NAVSUP BSC executed the Navy’s largest SAP system cloud migration in record time, moving the financial system of record, Navy ERP, from an onsite-hosted service to a commercial-cloud service. A critical step towards consolidating all Department of the Navy financial systems, and creating a unified, logical, modern infrastructure capable of delivering information advantages.
“NAVSUP BSC continues to play a vital role in Navy logistics, and we have evolved and adapted to design, develop, and maintain enterprise-wide solutions, a hundred micro-applications in the NAVSUP Enterprise Web Environment, and other business functions designed over the last 10 years,” said Zirbel. “Our civilians are the ‘secret sauce,’ and have been recognized at the Department of the Navy level multiple times. Anyone can write code if you give them the specifications, but the technical abilities combined with the unique knowledge of the Navy supply system that exists here are what sets us apart.”
Most recently, a small portion of the NAVSUP BSC workforce was dedicated to supporting the design and development efforts of Naval Operational Business Logistics Enterprise Naval Operational Supply System, a modernized, end-to-end operational supply-chain management solution.
NAVSUP BSC’s workforce extends beyond its headquarters in Mechanicsburg. They provide direct support to ships and Sailors throughout the fleet through Regional Support Sites in Norfolk, Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; San Diego, California; Bremerton, Washington; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. These experts maintain and respond to calls from the fleet for supported systems such as Navy Cash, Hazardous Inventory Control System for Windows, Food Service Management, Retail Operations Management, Personal Property Office kiosks, Fuel Asset Maintenance and Management System, and others.
“The future is bright for NAVSUP BSC, thanks to the skills, flexibility, institutional knowledge, and dedication of the military and civilian workforce,” said Cash. “As we continue to move forward with data analytics, robotics, and automation across the Navy enterprise, I’m confident NAVSUP BSC will continue to play a vital role in the readiness, auditability, and security of supply chains for NAVSUP and the Navy for decades to come.”
This is an Official U.S. Navy website
Navy.mil, Navy.com, Naval Information Warfare Training Group (NIWTG) Norfolk, NETWARCOM, No Fear Act Data, FOIA, Veterans Crisis Line, VA Vet Center