Navy keeps EDS on hand for extended NMCI transition

Moving from NMCI to NGEN will take longer than expected

The transition from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet to the new version of the services’ enterprise network will take longer than expected, officials said last week.

To fill the gap after the NMCI contract expires Sept. 30, 2010 — and before the Navy issues new contracts under the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) — the service plans to enter into a sole-source contract with EDS to continue providing NMCI services during the transition. Hewlett-Packard owns EDS.

“I think folks underestimated the complexity associated with the transition from NMCI moving forward,” said John Gauss, acquisition head at the NGEN System Program Office. “The folks that helped architect the original strategy, I don’t believe considered that it would be brought back in-house someday.”

The NMCI contract is a commercial services contract in which EDS provides services to meet service-level agreements. EDS owns much of NMCI's physical infrastructure and operating processes. The Navy needs access to that infrastructure to write and award NGEN contracts.

More importantly, the Navy wants more control over its network. For example. commanders at the Naval Network Warfare Command cannot view the global health and status of the networks using NMCI, Gauss said.

Problem resolution is another issue the Navy hopes to improve under NGEN. Navy officials want the ability to prioritize network problems to better support military missions rather than have a contractor maintain a service-level agreement, Gauss said.

“We swung the pendulum way too far by giving them far too much control,” Gauss said. “We’re not looking to bring it back in-house in its entirety, we’re looking to exercise the proper level of control in the networks.”

The sole-source contract is designed to keep the network running while the Navy pursues all the goals of NGEN, said Rear Adm. John Goodwin, assistant chief of naval operations for NGEN.

“My responsibilities are to synchronize the efforts of the operations, the policy, the programming, the resources and the acquisition piece,” Goodwin said. “We need to make sure that with so many stakeholders in a project of this magnitude that we don’t miss something.”

EDS officials said the costs associated with the NMCI infrastructure are substantial and the company is working with the Navy to transfer those licenses.

“Moving from NMCI to NGEN will be the largest [information technology] transition and transformation ever contemplated,” said Randy Dove, an EDS spokesman."Nothing has ever been attempted on this scale or complexity."

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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