Navy defends $16 billion for intranet
- By Dan Verton
- Mar 08, 2000
To fend off rising congressional opposition to a contract that could cost
the Navy as much as $16 billion, the Navy on Wednesday delivered to Congress
a memorandum of understanding that promises full disclosure of its business
approach to the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet program.
In a calculated move designed to allay congressional concerns that the
Navy is moving full steam ahead on a program for which it has budgeted no
money, Navy officials delivered the memorandum moments before a hearing
of the House Armed Services Committee's Military Readiness Subcommittee and Research and Development Subcommittee
was called to order.
Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.), chairman of the Military Readiness Subcommittee and one of
the most vocal detractors of the Navy's approach to contracting out all
of its information technology infrastructure under the intranet deal, said
he is "very concerned about the emergence of what may be a $16 billion program
over a short period of years."
A spokesperson from the N/MCI program office said office officials have no evidence that the program cost has increased and that Congress must have been including option years in its calculation.
The Navy memorandum, Bateman said, "does much to satisfy my concerns."
According to the memorandum, signed by Paul Brubaker, the Defense Department's acting deputy chief information officer, and Ron Turner, the Navy's deputy CIO for infrastructure, systems and technology, the Navy will provide Congress with certification of N/MCI's compliance with the Clinger-Cohen Act before a contract is awarded.
The memo also states that integrated product teams will be created to handle interoperability, information assurance and C4I support, and it promises evidence of the approach taken to conduct the following activities:
* Requirements definition.
* Business-case analysis, including analysis of alternatives and return on investment.
* Performance measurement.
* Testing and evaluation.
* C4I support planning.
* Baselining the initiative.
* Information assurance.
* Incremental fielding.
* Risk mitigation.
The Navy plans to award the N/MCI contract in June. Originally estimated
to cost $10 billion, the contract will cover computer and communications
services at 300 bases. Industry will provide hardware, software and services
to the local- and wide-area networks required to connect 350,000 users from
Iceland to Hawaii.
Congress is concerned about N/MCI because the Navy has not requested
any new money for the program in its fiscal 2001 budget request. The Navy
has argued that the program will be funded through the IT budgets of local
commands and that there is no need to identify new money. The House Armed
Services Committee disagreed with this approach in a March 7 memo, stating
that a "contract of this magnitude constitutes a major acquisition, [and]
all budgeting guidelines must be followed."
At Wednesday's hearing, Bateman asked, "Where does the Department of
the Navy contemplate obtaining the money if it goes forward [with N/MCI]?"
He added that he wants the Navy to assure Congress that at a time when military
readiness is being strained, the N/MCI program will not siphon funds from
other programs. N/MCI program officials could not be reached for comment.
However, Rear Adm. Richard Mayo, director for space, information warfare,
command and control, characterized N/MCI as one of the Navy's two "entry
keys" to modernization and security during testimony before the committee.
N/MCI, Mayo said, "will keep us current with industry" and will help
the Navy develop a "tight enclave" that reduces the number of security gaps
in Navy networks.