Navy readies NGEN for prime time

Acquisition strategy sets forth development approach in great detail

Work on the Navy’s massive new computer network is set to begin next year. The goal of the Next Generation Enterprise Network is to build on the existing Navy Marine Corps Intranet to provide users with secure, network-centric data and services.

Because the program is so large, with contract awards worth an estimated $1.9 billion for fiscal 2011, careful acquisition planning is essential for a timely deployment.

The Navy laid much of the groundwork last year with the approval of the program’s system design requirements, said Capt. Tim Holland, NGEN program manager. After the service outlined the program's overall parameters, the next step was to cover the transition from NMCI with a bridge contract, Holland said. As a part of the transition from NMCI to NGEN, the Navy is buying back its infrastructure from Hewlett-Packard, the prime contractor for NCMI. He said that change will essentially involve only replacing contractor help-desk staff members with government personnel.

Holland said the program is following two paths. The first is an acquisition strategy that will provide increased competition and promote security as an important part of the contracting process. The second track focuses on the network architecture. He said the Navy wants to increase its ability to conduct increased command and control of network activities and support additional network operations with decision-making authority via the network.

NGEN has a segmented acquisition strategy that divides the process into five sections:

  • Independent security operations oversight and assessment.
  • Transport.
  • Hardware.
  • Software.
  • Enterprise services.

Holland said the Navy approved the request for proposals for the independent security operations oversight and assessment segment in late October. The transport segment covers infrastructure such as local-area and wide-area networks. He said the Defense Information Systems Agency manages the existing WAN between Navy and Marine Corps bases. Under NGEN, the Navy will own that infrastructure, which facilitates competition for future upgrades, he said.

The hardware segment focuses on equipment such as laptop and desktop PCs and other office IT systems. Program managers are working with the Marine Corps to acquire all equipment through a single purchasing vehicle. That structure will also help standardize technology and security requirements.

In the software portion of NGEN’s acquisition strategy, a software licensing plan will provide a standard process across the Navy and Marine Corps. Holland said the software licensing will take place under DOD's Enterprise Software Initiative. For enterprise services, the work will cover areas such as supporting and migrating existing thick-client architecture to server farms. Holland said those services are being virtualized through a separate initiative that is not part of NGEN. He added that an RFP will be issued next year.

Another difference from NMCI is acquisition. The Navy wants to hold more and shorter competitions aligned with the service’s four- or five-year technology refresh cycles. The added competition will allow new ideas and concepts to make their way more rapidly into the program, Holland said. He added that from an enterprise perspective, the goal is to follow an industry model used by most Fortune 1,000 companies for software licensing and acquisition.

NGEN Next Steps 

Here is the acquisition timeline at press time, by segment, for the Next Generation Enterprise Network. 

Independent Security Operations Oversight and Assessment:
RFP: First quarter, fiscal 2011.
Award: Third quarter, fiscal 2011.

RFP: Start of second quarter, fiscal 2011.
Award: Start of second quarter, fiscal 2012.

End-User Hardware:
Continuity-of-services contract affords the flexibility to purchase hardware from Hewlett-Packard as appropriate.
Award: Start of second quarter, fiscal 2012.

Enterprise Software Licensing:
Procurement via Defense Department's Enterprise Software Initiative.
Award: End of second quarter, fiscal 2012.

Enterprise Services:
RFP: Fourth quarter, fiscal 2011.
Award: Fourth quarter, fiscal 2012.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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