N/MCI award nears the homestretch

Despite last-minute conditions placed by the Office of Management and Budget

on the $16 billion Navy/Marine Corps Intranet program, the Navy is likely

to announce a contract winner around Sept. 20, said a high-ranking official

close to the program.

The effort to deploy a worldwide network linking vessels and Navy and

Marine bases is the single largest information technology program in the

Defense Department and has already overcome numerous obstacles. The latest

is a letter sent by OMB to the Pentagon listing conditions that must be

met before the program can proceed. Chief among those is that before Oct.

1, 2001, the Navy must review the program and prove that it "works as advertised,"

said the official, who asked not to be named. The letter "is no show stopper"

for the program, the official added.

Art Money, the Pentagon's chief information officer, was set to sign

off on the conditional certification by late morning Sept. 15. Congress

would be notified of the official certification immediately afterward.

The Navy decided months ago on the contract winner and has been pushing

for an early announcement, but some members of Congress — and now the Clinton

administration — have thrown in roadblocks. And even before word of the

administration letter leaked, the Navy had to delay the award because of

the death of Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.).

Bateman, who had a reputation as a tough watchdog of high-profile Pentagon

IT programs, passed away Sept. 11 at age 72. As chairman of the House

Military Readiness Subcommittee, he watched over the largest slice of the

Pentagon's budget, which included the N/MCI program.

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