Navy plans to ask for NGEN proposals by spring

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The service prepares to hold two industry days to discuss the network that will connect users on shore and at sea.

Top naval information technology officials said on Friday that they expect to issue requests for proposals by spring 2009 for a system that would replace the service's massive enterprise network that tied together hundreds of thousands of desktops across its shore-based facilities.

Comment on this article in The Forum.Officials said the Navy is working with industry and seeking comments on the best way to proceed with the Next-Generation Enterprise Networks program.

The Navy's IT officials spoke to an audience of about 300 people at an industry luncheon in Pentagon City in Arlington, Va., sponsored by the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association. Before the discussion, conference organizers said the speakers asked that their comments not be attributed to them by name. The officials said providing their names would not allow them to be candid in their discussions with the audience, the majority of whom were federal IT contractors.

The four-person panel discussed the Navy's project to replace the $10 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet, a contract that EDS won in 2000, with the Next-Generation Enterprise Network. NGEN will expand on NMCI and look to tie in the on-shore networks with those on ships at sea.

So far the service has held one industry day and plans to sponsor two more, one in December and another in early 2009. One of the officials on the panel said he expects the Navy will ask for requests for proposals in spring 2009. The Navy also is considering 43 white papers on NGEN that contractors have submitted.

An official said the service had opened a special program office staffed with both Navy and Marine Corps personnel, who would coordinate NGEN. The program office reports to several high-ranking officials, and a Navy speaker called it a new, very interesting construct that may be applied to other programs if it proves successful.

An official said the Marine Corps should be using NGEN before the Navy and the Navy will take lessons from how the Marines Corps deployed the new network.

The NGEN program office has divided the program into eight segments to deliver capabilities more quickly. The segmentation also will allow the Navy to contract out different portions of NGEN to various companies rather than relying on one contractor.