Navy network RFP delay won't affect contract award, officials say

The Navy expects to award the $10 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network contract as planned this December despite a three-month delay in releasing the request for proposals, which originally was scheduled to be announced in December 2011.

On March 16, service officials said they had decided to give potential bidders one last opportunity to make recommendations before the Navy releases the final request for proposals. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command released an updated draft RFP for NGEN that day and Capt. Shawn Hendricks, program manager for Naval Enterprise Networks, said it is a "direct reflection of the comments received by industry. The development of the RFP has been a collaborative process between industry, the program office and the [Navy]."

Hendricks, in an attachment to the draft RFP, said he wants to determine if the Navy is asking for anything that could significantly drive costs beyond what companies provide the majority of their customers or if anything in the performance work statement could jeopardize network operations or security. The Navy also wants to know if potential bidders feel the service has adequately addressed concerns previously raised by the contractor.

Potential bidders include HP Enterprise Services, which has run the existing Navy Marine Corps Intranet since 2000; a team led by Computer Sciences Corp. with General Dynamics Information Technology and Cisco; and possibly Lockheed Martin Corp., which already has started adversiting job openings for engineers to work on the project. Contractors have until March 30 to respond to the draft RFP.

Last year, Hendricks said SPAWAR needed to get the network RFP out the door by Dec. 21, 2011, and award the contract in December 2012 so that the Navy and Marine Corps will have a network in place when HP's existing Navy Marine Corps Intranet extension contract expires in April 2014. "We don't want the lights to go out," Hendricks said.

Steven Davis, a SPAWAR spokesman, told Nextgov that despite the delays, "the government anticipates contract award in December 2012. With respect to the release of the NGEN RFP, any changes will be made public when they are approved and finalized. The final RFP release is not anticipated before the end of March 2012."

In another attachmemt to the draft RFP, the Navy said it plans to complete transition to the new network from NMCI within 13 months of contract award. If SPAWAR awards the contract on schedule, then transition to NGEN should be completed by the end of January 2013, 14 months before the NMCI contract expires.

The 366-page performance work statement included in the draft RFP said SPAWAR could award separate or combined contracts for transport services, such as base and local area networks, and enterprise services, which includes security, application hosting, Web services and a variety of other information technology services.

HP owned and operated NMCI as a consolidated network for both the Navy and Marines. Under NGEN, both services will operate distinct domains, according to the document. The Navy domain will be structured as a government-owned, contractor-operated network. The Marine domain will be a government-owned, government-operated network.

Contractors will supply end user hardware, such as desktop and laptop computers, as a service in the Navy domain while the Marines will have the option to purchase end user hardware as a service.

The Marines, but not the Navy, also plan to use an unspecified number of thin clients -- dumb terminals with keyboards, mice and monitors, but no local data storage -- for its NGEN domain, the work statement disclosed. Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, the Marine Corps chief information officer, said in February the Marines eventually could end up with more thin clients than PCs working off its networks as part of a shift to a virtual desktop environment.