N/MCI contract award on hold

The death of Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.), chairman of the House Military

Readiness Subcommittee, is almost certain to delay the award of the Navy's

planned $16 billion intranet contract.

The Navy had been expected to award the contract for the Navy/Marine

Corps Intranet (N/MCI) as early as this week, but industry sources say it

will be delayed by at least a week.

Bateman, a critic of the Navy's planned $16 billion intranet contract,

died early Monday. He was 72.

Earlier this year, Bateman had criticized the Navy for failing to consult

Congress about funding for N/MCI. He was concerned that readiness funding

would be diverted to the project.

But he became a supporter of the project to link Navy and Marine facilities

worldwide with a single intranet system after meeting with Navy officials

and holding a series of hearings on the subject.

"Everyone assumes that the conference was on track to resolve the issues

and come up with a compromise that was workable," an industry source said.

"Mr. Bateman's staff has been at the epicenter of this exchange."

Industry sources said most of the issues surrounding the multibillion-dollar

project had been worked out in House and Senate negotiations over the fiscal

2001 Defense authorization bill that ended Sunday night. The only outstanding

issue is how to soften the funding impact on Naval depots and shipyards

that fear a loss of funding because of the project.

Meanwhile, lawmakers expressed sorrow over Bateman's death.

"Rep. Herb Bateman was a strong working partner throughout the many

years we served together in the U.S. Congress, particularly in fighting

for a strong military and the welfare of the men and women in uniform, their

families, and military retirees," said Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who worked

with Bateman on the N/MCI issue.

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