Navy releases long-awaited final solicitation for NGEN

Wednesday - 5/9/2012, 10:37pm EDT

The Navy released its long-awaited request for proposals Wednesday for vendors to manage and modernize one of the largest computer networks in the world—second only to the Internet itself.

The Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract, which the Navy values at up to $4.5 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 release of the RFP is a significant milestone and it reflects critical insight from industry as we compete the world's largest enterprise network," Capt. Shawn Hendricks, NGEN's program manager said in a statement Wednesday night. "The comments from our ongoing dialogue with industry were carefully reviewed and reflected in the government's position in the NGEN RFP."

At least two large 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, has teamed with AT&T, Northrop Grumman and IBM for its NGEN bid. Lockheed Martin joined the same team Wednesday shortly before the final RFP was announced.

Another powerful consortium made up of Computer Sciences Corporation, Harris Corp., General Dynamics Information Technology and Verizon also is expected to compete.

Navy officials have said they do not expect end users to notice an immediate change in the transition to NGEN. Indeed, the intent of NGEN is to maintain the status quo during the initial transition period and then let the Navy continuously evolve its networks by recompeting whatever parts of the network it deems necessary. The most significant difference between the NGEN and NMCI structures is that the Navy and Marines will own their own networks and gain more control over day-to-day operations.

Under NMCI, HP, which bought EDS, who won the $6 billion contract in 2000, fully owned and operated the network. The company has continued to operate the network under a continuity of services agreement since the last NMCI contract expired in 2009. During that time the Navy and Marine Corps have been buying back the intellectual property, hardware and software that make up NMCI.

Under the NGEN model—made up of 38 separate services (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.

Vendors will have to work quickly to respond to the huge RFP. Proposals are due by July 18, and the Navy Department expects to make an award by Feb. 12, 2013. The Navy and Marine Corps expect to begin transitioning IT services off of the continuity of services contract and onto NGEN in early 2013. The entire transition must be completed by April 2014, when the current bridge contract with HP expires.

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