Navy restricts IT buys
- By Bill Murray
- Nov 05, 2000
Beginning this month, Navy Department contracting chiefs must assess and
pass along to senior officials any waivers for information technology buys
that fall outside the Navy's massive intranet program.
H. Lee Buchanan, the assistant Navy secretary for research, development
and acquisition, issued a memo Oct. 19 requiring that all Navy contracting
officers receive permission before buying a technology product or service
from a contract other than the Navy Marine Corps Intra-net contract if that
product or service is offered under NMCI. The order covers all IT buys
worth more than $25,000.
Under the NMCI contract, which was awarded to Electronic Data Systems
Corp. last month for $6.9 billion, multiple Navy and Marine Corps short-based
networks worldwide will be linked together in an effort to create a seamless
The list of products affected by the order includes deliveries from
pre-awarded governmentwide contracts as well as individual contracts. The
order covers data and video products and services but not voice services
because NMCI won't offer those until 2003. And it does not affect systems
for mission-critical areas such as cryptology.
"We want to track to an infinite degree our IT spending," said Lt. Jane
Alexander, a Navy spokeswoman.
Buchanan called for contracting officers to conduct reviews before awarding
contracts — or even before issuing vendor solicitations — "to avoid the
potential for duplication of expenditures" for NMCI capabilities.
Buchanan limited the delegation of authority for conducting the reviews
to the flag and senior executive service levels. The heads of contracting
offices also need to determine whether computing products or services purchased
before NMCI is installed at their offices are "essential to successful
execution of a command or program initiative," Buchanan wrote. An organization
can purchase IT services that cover a period that will expire before the
organization starts using NMCI.
The directive also shows that department officials are not going to
relax the mandatory nature of the NMCI contract.
"I don't see this as being a big problem," said Harold Hanson, executive
director for contracts at Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters, which
will start rolling out NMCI within the next six months. "I can't imagine
that people are going to be buying NMCI-like services except through that
Contracting officers in organizations that won't deploy NMCI until later
may have difficulty forecasting future IT purchases, but "we'll just have
to deal with it" if it's a legitimate purchase request, Hanson said.
"Given what they're trying to do with that contract, they are absolutely
going to have to get control over who's purchasing what," said Chip Mather,
a senior vice president at Acquisition Solutions Inc. of Chantilly, Va.
"But there has to be an alternative [way] of getting people machines today."