Navy charts NGEN schedule

A Navy official on Wednesday gave more details about the schedule for awarding its massive enterprise network system, but these did little to dispel continuing concerns about the program's transparency, reports NextGov.

The service is awaiting industry feedback on its segmented approach to implementing the system, but expects to award the contracts in 2010, said Capt. Tim Holland, program manager for the Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN).

The program will tie shore-based networks to those aboard ships and is designed to replace the $10 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet, which was awarded to EDS Corp. in 2000. Unlike its predecessor, NGEN will be controlled largely by the government, Holland said.

To facilitate a faster transition, the Navy has created a program office that will bring four separate functions under one roof: acquisitions, policy, budgeting and day-to-day operations. "We're bringing into a single office all of the pieces simply because our networks across the Navy enterprise are fairly disparate and in a number of different hands," Holland said.

One benefit of the new structure is it will help keep high-ranking officials informed about progress on NGEN.

"I'm briefing senior acquisition officials as well as others within the department," Holland said. "Frankly, any acquisition of the magnitude of NGEN and NMCI is going to have visibility at the highest levels."

Another step the program office has taken to speed up the process is to break the NGEN contract into eight different groups of services. The first is made up of functions that will be retained by the government: program management; contract management; technical authority; and the actual operation of the network, which marks a departure from the contractor-controlled NMCI. The program also will use government engineers to support in-service capabilities.

Six other types of services are slated to be outsourced: data storage, help desk services, networking services (both wide and local area), managing applications, security, and information assurance and providing service to end users for both desktops and mobile devices. The Navy is expected to use a contractor for coordinating the outsourced services.

The Navy continues to face criticism about its lack of communication and transparency regarding NGEN plans, however.

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