Navy takes industry feedback to heart in NGEN RFP

Monday - 5/21/2012, 4:37pm EDT

The Department of the Navy delayed its final request for proposals for the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) to ensure it addressed vendor concerns, the program's leader said Friday.

The Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract, which the Navy values at up to $5.3 billion over five years, is intended to be the next evolution of the existing Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI). NMCI comprises the primary IT infrastructure for approximately 900,000 sailors, Marines and civilian Navy Department employees. The Navy released the RFP May 9, five months after they had planned.

Capt. Shawn Hendricks, program manager for the Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) Program Office, said as the December deadline approached, the number of substantive questions and concerns from interested parties increased.

"I think I've reviewed, personally, on the order of 3,500 comments for the RFP, both from industry and our stakeholders," Hendricks told reporters at a press briefing.

One comment, Hendricks said, prompted the Navy to spend extra time and resources revising its plan for zero-client, or virtualized, machines. The original plan called for 7,500 machines, but the vendor said that number was too low and threatened to drive up costs.

"That comment alone drove many hours of work, because we realized they were right," Hendricks said.

In the end, the Navy decided to increase the number of zero-client PCs.

Program leaders also revised plans after stakeholders submitted concerns about the fairness of the competition.

At least two teams of companies are expected to vie for the huge contract by the time proposals are due July 13. Hewlett-Packard, which holds the existing contract for NMCI continuity of services contract, has teamed with AT&T, Northrop Grumman and IBM for its NGEN bid. Lockheed Martin joined the same team May 9 shortly before the final RFP was announced.

The other team is led by CSC and includes Harris Corp., General Dynamics IT and Verizon.

Under the NGEN model — made up of 38 separate services, called enterprise, transport and shared services — the Navy will own and direct the network while vendors handle various lower-level operations. The Marine Corps will both own and operate its portion of the network with contractor support.

Bidders must submit questions by May 23. Industry proposals are due July 18. The Navy plans to award initial contracts in February 2013 and complete the transition by May 2014.

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