It is very easy to let pessimism seep into a post on automated data connections to the Coast Guard’s new Integrated Data Environment (IDE). The truth is, after the Coast Guard’s IDE migrated onto the Coast Guard’s NIPRnet (CGONE), it was not new. The contract Period of Performance began on September 15th, 2021 and the IDE became available on CGONE NIPRnet on January 28th, 2022. Yet, the time spent building and migrating the IDE environments (Dev, Staging & Prod) to ambiguous Coast Guard standards is dwarfed by the time the IDE will end up experiencing for building out its first data connection; a clock that is still running at the time of writing.
Asset Logistics Management Information System
The Asset Logistics Management Information System (ALMIS), “Is an asset logistics system that provides maintenance tracking, parts ordering/inventory, and mission information for aviation and surface assets.” ALMIS was explicitly targeted by the Coast Guard’s Data Readiness Task Force (DRTF) for ingestion into the Coast Guard’s IDE due to its strong reputation; a reputation of reliability and data accuracy. However, as it would turn out, ALMIS (like many other Coast Guard Information Technology systems) was minimally resourced.
It is difficult for me to say exactly how old the ALMIS system is. I can say with certainty when I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy and reported to my first unit in June 2013, the Coast Guard was expanding the ALMIS front-end and back-end database to incorporate an ALMIS Electronic Asset Logbook (EAL): “The second of two authoritative sources for current and historical mission employment of all Coast Guard resources, including boats, cutters, fixed-wing air assets, rotary-wing air assets, vehicles, and personnel teams.”
ALMIS EAL on a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter is used to track launch, return and mission of the small boat assets. I can attest this branch of the ALMIS system was implemented on USCGC VIGOROUS in June 2013. However, from secondhand reports I can place initial implementation for the ALMIS system as early as the early 2000s. Whether it is a rumored early 2000s or confirmed firsthand in 2013, ALMIS is hardly a young system. By most measures, ALMIS would be considered a legacy system.
Largely, the Coast Guard elects to treat its IT systems like its different traditional assets. Which is to say, assets move from acquisition to sustainment and maintenance within the logistics lifecycle. However, over the course of one or two decades, IT systems become legacy IT systems. And modernization is required. System modernization requires funding at or even above legacy system acquisition.
This was the blocker both the DRTF and the ALMIS data owner team, Aviation Logistics Center Infrastructure Services Division (ALD ISD), faced when the DRTF approached ALC ISD to make a data connection between ALMIS and the Coast Guard’s IDE. The DRTF was asking ALC ISD to perform additional work beyond their existing job requirements. However, ALC ISD was minimally staffed to sustain and maintain ALMIS. Despite any desire to perform above and beyond the scope of their chartered work, ALC ISD is likely already barely able to keep up with the growing problems of sustaining and maintaining an IT system past its baseline acquisition service life.