Navy should consider alternatives to NGEN, auditors say

Cost estimates branded as 'neither comprehensive or credible'

The Government Accounting Office is recommending that the Navy drop anchor on its massive Next Generation Enterprise Network program until it has reviewed and considered all alternative acquisition approaches.

In its new report, the GAO found that the Navy did not sufficiently analyze alternate acquisition strategies because the options contained weaknesses and did not match the program’s current acquisition approach. The report noted that the cost estimates for the alternatives were not reliable because they were not accurate, and “neither comprehensive or credible.”


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The GAO also indicated that the Navy’s NGEN acquisition strategy is not one of the alternatives assessed in the analysis and is riskier and potentially more expensive because it contains a large number of contractual relationships.

Other weaknesses cited in the report include a lack of a reliable schedule for the program. According to the GAO, these weaknesses have already contributed to delays in key program milestones. The GAO noted that during the review, the Navy took steps to address some, but not all of these weaknesses.

“Collectively, these weaknesses mean that [the Navy] does not have a sufficient basis for knowing that it is pursuing the best approach for acquiring NGEN capabilities and that the program’s cost and schedule performance is unlikely to track to estimates,” the report concluded.

The GAO has recommended that the Defense Department limit additional NGEN funding until it conducts a review to reconsider the program’s acquisition strategy. In commenting to the report, the DOD stated that it did not agree with the recommendations.

NGEN is meant to replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, a program that had its own history of cost and technology issues. The Navy has already spent $432 million on NGEN as of September 2010, reports Information Week. The program, which is intended to provide increased and scalable capabilities such as secure transport for voice and data, information storage, and email, is expected to cost $50 billion through 2025.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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