Intercepts

PRIVATE N/MCI CLUB? Though the Navy chief information officer shop canceled the come-one, come-all pre-solicitation conference for the $2 billion-plus Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (N/MCI) so that it could keep its request for proposals train running on time, it did hold a rather cozy meeting with some industry big guys at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. Much of the discussion at the meeting focused on seat management issues for the N/MCI, with reps from Computer Sciences Corp., Litton/PRC Inc. and TRW Inc. invited to make a pitch on their approaches to handling the 450,000 seat procurement. Strangely absent from the meeting were reps from Unisys Corp. and OAO Corp.

Because neither Emmett Paige Jr., the former ASD/C3I, nor James McGuirk, head of Unisys' federal operations, are exactly shy folks, I bet Navy CIO Dan Porter will hear from them soon. I've found there's nothing like a rocket-gram from Paige to jump-start a slow morning.

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SMALL-BIZ NICHE. The bunch-of-big-guys-sitting-around-just-talking also relegated any small or medium-size business hoping to grab a big piece of the N/MCI pie to a secondary role, according to a report of the meeting posted on one of the latest in a line of N/MCI World Wide Web sites (now, and I hope finally, e-commerce.spawar.navy.mil/nmci).

Reps from these major players - Electronic Data Systems Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Science Applications International Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. - concluded that "small and medium-size business will have to be niche players or regional players because they simply do not have a deep pocket for taking the risks and maintaining the cash flow required." According to Ron Turner, the Navy deputy CIO, certain "services" on the N/MCI contract would be allocated to small business.

I don't know what the Small Business Administration will make of all this, but as the Air Force Standard Systems Group well knows, not paying attention to small business can derail a procurement for years.

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MARINE BZs FOR SPRINT. Marine F-18 squadrons participating in Operation Allied Force - the air war in Yugoslavia this year - operated from a former Warsaw Pact MIG base in Tazar, Hungary. The base was used for the past several years as an Army/Air Force forward logistics base to support U.S. troops in Bosnia. Part of the infrastructure in Tazar included a commercial network installed by Sprint for the Army 5th Signal Command to link that base with Tuzla, Bosnia, and smaller base camps in that country. Marine Lt. Col. Phillip Tissue, writing about the Tazar deployment in this month's issue of Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, commented on the ability to tap into a Sprint network while on deployment. "If you're fortunate, a commercial firm will be there for you, too, when you need a telephone," he wrote. One wonders if once-a-Marine Steve D'Lugos, who now heads the Sprint Government Markets Marine fire team, personally installed Tissue's telephone.

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NASHVILLE BOUND. The famed mobile Intercept unit and I are spending the first part of this week in Nashville at the semi-annual Coast Guard Civil GPS Service confab, including the latest update on new civilian and military frequencies. I hope I also can discover a country-and-western song in which someone finds a long-lost love thanks to the miracle of the Global Positioning System.

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