Navy's huge outsourcing project sets sail

The $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) contract is by far the largest government seat management contract so far, with a total target population worldwide of some 360,000 users.

The decision to go with seat management came only after a long period of analysis by the Navy's senior leaders, in which they considered a number of strategies for acquiring the services for NMCI — including a traditional procurement of hardware and software and management of the system by government personnel.

But it was their research of commercial-sector practices that convinced the Navy, and the fact that many private-sector companies had implemented sizable and complex enterprisewide networks using seat management.

Four principal considerations drove the final decision, according to a Navy spokesperson:

The lack of interoperability within the Navy's shore IT infrastructure. The need to achieve interoperability across the Navy and the Marine Corps, as well as with joint and coalition forces. The need to quickly harness advances in commercial IT for programs such as Joint Vision 2010 and Information Technology for the 21st Century. The demonstrated success of private-sector companies in using seat management. Not everyone will be following the Navy's lead. The Air Force, for example, has said it will go its own way. And bickering over NMCI has already started, with sources inside the Navy describing NMCI as too costly and no more than a time-share hosted on servers. An initial plan to only provide TCP/IP connectivity to the Internet also went over "like a lead balloon," according to one employee at the Naval Air Warfare Center.

But there's a lot of time left, and the final judgment won't come for some time. An evaluation of the first implementation, in the Naval Air Systems Command and other parts of the Naval aviation community, won't be completed until summer. Full implementation of NMCI is slated for the second quarter of fiscal 2003.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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