Navy tests soup-to-nuts leasing deal

The Navy's Atlantic Fleet has kicked off a leasing program to acquire the entire information technology infrastructure for its Norfolk Va. headquarters as part of its Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT-21) program.

Cmdr. Debra Straub director of command control communications and computers (C4) for commander-in-chief Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) described the headquarters' leasing plan as a "major" project to base all ashore and afloat Navy IT systems on commercial computers and network equipment. If successful the program could serve as a model for the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.

"This is a joint effort between Adm. [Archie] Clemins and Adm. [Paul] Reason. We are using our headquarters as the pilot and Dr. [Marv] Langston can then apply the acquisition methodology to IT-21. PACFLT is looking to see how it works for us " Straub said.

Along with a pilot outsourcing test planned for Hawaii the Navy hopes to use the leasing project to determine the best way to quickly refresh and maintain commercial IT systems.

The Atlantic Fleet wants to lease the entire IT infrastructure for its headquarters upgrade from hubs and routers to desktop PCs according to Jim Swizewski the contracting officer for the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk Detachment Philadelphia and the manager of the leasing acquisition. This includes 1 000 desktop PCs (Pentium Pro 200s as the threshold technology) 25 servers 200 notebooks 400 black-and-white laser printers 200 color printers nine hubs and routers and maintenance.

Straub said the architecture will conform to the interim IT-21 standards released by the Navy March 31 that call for Pentium-based servers desktops and PCs running Microsoft Corp. network operating system and office automation software.

Dorothy Hennigan director of C4 resources management for the Atlantic Fleet said the command does not intend to lease the software "since it's virtually the same as buying software licenses. We already own the licenses and they are transferable [from one computer to another]."

While the Atlantic Fleet command believes it can save money on equipment costs by leasing it is the ability to upgrade systems quickly so they keep pace with developments in the commercial marketplace - plus the lower maintenance costs - that are driving the leasing project Hennigan said. "This will ensure that our systems are continuously refreshed with maintenance costs [being] the responsibility of the people who lease to us " she said.

An Innovative Approach

Swizewski said the Navy anticipates turning over desktops laptops and servers every 18 months and having the printers hubs and routers upgraded every 24 months. Because the fleet plans to install this leased equipment on a secure local-area network Hennigan said the command had devised an innovative approach to its leasing strategy that will accommodate security requirements.

"Vendors want the machines returned in working condition upon refreshment so they can resell them but we cannot return the hard disks without degaussing them " Hennigan said. "So we plan to be the owners of the removable hard drives. We want to either buy [new] hard drives to return with the leased systems or lease without the hard drives."

Responses to the request for proposals (released last week) are due Aug. 11 and an award is slated for Oct. 1. Straub said if this project does show that the service can use leasing to bring down costs and meet its requirements the Navy can then move quickly to roll it out to what she called the "massive shore infrastructure" in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.

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