N/MCI watchdog Bateman dies

Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.), chairman of the House Military Readiness Subcommittee

and a onetime critic of the Navy's $16 billion intranet contract, died today.

He was 72.

Bateman, who had announced his plan to retire this year because of poor

health, had watched over the largest slice of the Pentagon's budget that

included the controversial plan to develop the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet

(N/MCI) program — a worldwide network linking vessels and Navy and Marine

bases.

His death may delay a decision on whether to go forward with the program.

The Navy planned to award the contract this month, but Bateman had asked

Navy officials to wait until he and other members of Congress could meet

with them. The meeting was to be held after the Labor Day holiday, but it

had not occurred by the end of last week.

Bateman had criticized the Navy for moving ahead aggressively without

involving Congress in the funding process and had called for a General Account

Office analysis on the Navy's plan to develop the intranet. The GAO's findings

were to be discussed at the meeting Bateman called.

Bateman was first elected to Congress in 1982 and brought many defense

contracts to his southeastern Virginia district. He resided in Newport News,

which is among the world's major centers for the construction of warships.

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