Navy begins analyzing voice services for NMCI

The Navy has established a working group to conduct cost reviews for adding voice services to the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

"We're figuring out how we're spending and what we're spending," said Capt. Chris Christopher, staff director for the NMCI program. "We're doing cost studies on what we're spending on phones now."

The Navy issued a request for proposals to NMCI contractor EDS Corp. two weeks ago, asking the company to suggest cost-effective models for the voice component of the $8.82 billion NMCI contract, said Debra Streufert, principal contracting officer in the NMCI director's office.

The idea behind NMCI all along has been to weave the service's voice, video and data communications systems.

The site reviews are similar to those the Navy conducted a few years ago for the NMCI computer seat services and products. The NMCI work group has been visiting service locations to gather information about the Navy's telephone systems and what it spends on voice services.

What it has found so far is inconsistent, Christopher said. For example, one site might have 40 or 50 PBX systems when four would suffice, he said. Also, the Navy is taking a hard look at voice over IP, Christopher said.

"As VOIP grows, fewer [landline systems] will be needed," said Cmdr. Joseph Spruill, the Navy's business and financial manager. "There will always be a requirement for some PBXes. If you need to talk to people not within your IP network, there will still need to be some technology answers."

Christopher, Spruill and Streufert today hosted a media briefing in Arlington, Va., on NMCI budget figures. President Bush is requesting $1.59 billion for NMCI in fiscal 2004, up from $1.1 billion this year. The additional funding would cover an increase in seat services and contractor incentives.

After the 360,000-plus data seats for NMCI are completely cut over, which EDS plans to finish early next year, the Navy and the vendor will begin work on the enterprise voice and video components, the Navy officials said.

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