As NGEN Contract Competition Wages, NMCI Holds Down the Fort
By Jessica Pelenberg - Published, November 9, 2011
CAPT Shawn Hendricks, manager of the Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) Program Office, has issued a challenge to industry providers looking to compete for the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract: be innovative to lower costs.
CAPT Hendricks spoke about the upcoming competition for the NGEN contract at an industry briefing held recently at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The NEN Program Office, which manages NGEN, also manages the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), the Navy's large-scale network originally awarded in 2000. By its very name, NGEN is intended to be the DON's evolutionary step in providing NMCI network services, which Hendricks referred to as "the finest in the world." Hendricks estimated that this represents one of the largest government contract opportunities of its kind to date.
NGEN aims to build on lessons learned from NMCI, while continuing to provide secure, net-centric data and services to Department of the Navy personnel. The transition from NMCI represents the continuous evolution of the DON's enterprise networks. However, in an era of declining budgets, Hendricks was adamant that he is looking for "the right product at the right price" and that he is more concerned with "affordability to the taxpayer" than reaching the budget ceiling.
Hendricks also emphasized that NMCI is not broken, but that the new network will increase competition, leading to savings for both the government and the taxpayer. He noted that innovation will play a pivotal role in finding efficiencies. Hendricks said bidders should respond with offers that drive down costs through reduced staffing requirements and rely on government-wide software license contracting vehicles. At the same time, the contract will only last five years including option years, as compared with 13 for NMCI and the NMCI Continuity of Services Contract (CoSC) – the contracting vehicle initiated in 2010 supporting the transition to NGEN. The new contract is viewed by Hendricks as an opportunity to drive down price through competition. "I want to make sure that they [service providers] know we're going to compete it again," Hendricks said. "Technology changes too fast; you don't want anybody getting comfortable for too long."
The Navy has set a tight schedule for the contract, with the final request for proposals to be released Dec. 21, 2011, and contract award in Dec. 2012. The network transition must be complete no later than April 30, 2014, when NMCI CoSC ends. Until that time, NMCI will continue to be a successful foundation for NGEN to build upon.
NMCI, in place since 2000, is the largest corporate intranet on the planet, utilizing 384,000 workstations at more than 3,000 locations and representing about 70 percent of all DON IT operations.
NMCI provides the network computing environment for all shore-based users in the continental United States and Hawaii. It is a secure environment that provides reliable information transfer.
Every day, more than 700,000 Sailors, Marines, and civilians rely on NMCI for their PCs and laptops, for their mobile wireless solutions such as Blackberries and wireless cards, and for the security and support their missions require.
Users can get 24/7 assistance from three service desks operating in San Diego, Ca., Norfolk, Va., and Boise, Id. Through its network interoperability, NMCI also provides increased productivity and enhanced information assurance (IA) security across the DON. Users on the network can easily look up the email addresses of other users in the Defense Information Systems Agency's Joint Enterprise Directory Services contact list, through the use of the Global Address List (GAL). The NMCI program office was integral in the development of the GAL and in its deployment across the network.
Since its inception, NMCI has evolved to become the first network to fully implement the Department of Defense (DoD) IA standards in both classified and unclassified environments. It was also the first large-scale production network to adopt key, cutting-edge DoD IA standards such as full Public Key Infrastructure enforcement and application inspection at the firewall. Using these standards, it prevents more than 78 million foreign network connection attempts per month, detects an average of 800 new viruses per month and blocks approximately 35 million spam messages per month.
As the competition for the new contract wages on, both the existing network – NMCI – and its evolutionary future – NGEN – keep the DON at the cutting edge crossroads of efficient and innovative IT acquisition.