Navy details NMCI follow-on plan

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Navy documents

The Navy has ambitious plans for the future of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, according to two documents released Aug. 29.

The documents, totaling about 700 pages, describe how the Navy would like to see NMCI evolve after the original contract expires in 2010. Launched as a network for internal administrative systems, NMCI has become the core network for just about everything the Navy and Marine Corps do.

The Navy plans to change the name, to Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN, according to the
documents.

According to the plan, the Navy will integrate NMCI more tightly with other Navy networks, such as the networks ships use when at sea.

“Both the Navy’s afloat and ashore environments would be integrated in some fashion,” said Pat Tracey, an EDS vice president and retired Naval Admiral. “It won’t necessarily be turned into a single network, but it will be interoperable and able to facilitate smooth exchange of information from one domain to another inside the Navy’s network.”

EDS, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in August, is the prime contractor on the 10-year NMCI project. The Navy documents reveal that the service also plans to integrate the network with the Defense Department’s Global Information Grid and related components.

Extending NMCI to ships at sea is the next logical step for the program, said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at FedSources. He hasn’t read the latest Navy documents yet, but he closely follows NMCI and NGEN.

He said he is not certain the ambitious vision for NGEN will succeed fully. 

“The original concept, kind of on the grand scale in NMCI, was everything in the shore establishment was going to be connected under one telecommunications network,” Bjorklund said. “I applaud the Navy for working so hard to try and achieve that vision, but I think they recognize that there are problems in trying to extend it to every single part of the Navy.”

Tracey said the documents reveal no surprises because Navy officials have been discussing their ambitions for NMCI — or NGEN — for some time.

“They do not describe an acquisition strategy,” she said. “They’re pretty specific about that in both of the documents, that the actual contents of [a request for proposals] won’t be able to be deduced from these two documents.”

The development of NGEN will coincide with other projects at the Navy, including upgrading its shipboard networks. 

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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