Navy intranet plan runs aground

Congress dealt the Navy's intranet plan a life-threatening blow this week with language in

the 2001 Defense authorization bill that withholds money for the program

until at least two months after the Navy can produce a laundry list of studies

and contractual assurances to Congress.

The bill would require the Navy to produce evidence that it has studied

alternatives to the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet. It also calls for the Navy

to give a full description of how it will pay for the program, how it will

handle military and civilian workers that are displaced by N/MCI, and a

wide range of other issues.

The Navy planned to award the N/MCI contract in early June. However,

sources said the language placed in the authorization bill could delay the

contract until after the November elections.

The intranet would replace a hodgepodge of 24 Navy and Marine Corps

networks with a seamless network owned and operated by a single contractor.

The Navy said it needs the intranet to prepare for network-centric warfare

and to beef up information security on its computers.

The Navy has a team "working full time on how [the Navy is] going to

measure N/MCI [performance] and return on investment," according to David

Litchfield, director of N/MCI services within the Navy's Office of the Chief

Information Officer.

Performance measurement and costs savings are major parts of the business

case analysis Congress has been pushing the Navy to produce. Litchfield

declined to comment on the specifics of the Navy's approach to responding

to the language in the defense bill.

However, "if we get too fancy about how we are measuring ourselves,

we could be walking into a swamp," Litchfield said Wednesday at the Outlook

2001 conference sponsored by Federal Sources Inc.

Although the Navy has amended the N/MCI contract 10 times since December

1999, Litchfield says the plan remains the same as originally envisioned.

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