Navy NGEN’s Latest Waves Add to the Drama

Published: June 26, 2013

Contract AwardsNAVY

Anyone who says that the federal government IT contracting market is uninteresting obviously has not been watching the ebb and flow of the Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract. While it might not rise to the level often reserved for typical Washington ruckus, the reported events of the last few days surrounding this contract nearly boarders on the stuff of television melodramas.

Throughout 2012 the Navy repeatedly asserted that it would award its $4.5 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract by the end of that calendar year. The time came and went and the Navy bought time by extending the current Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) contract with additional contracts to keep things afloat.
Then it was reported that the NGEN follow-on to NMCI has been delayed again, beyond the latest projected May 31 award date, and would be pushed to late June because the Navy has “re-entered into discussions” with bidders.
Along the way the “M” in NMCI jumped ship. After more than a decade of outsourcing their network operations to Hewlett Packard (and EDS before them) under the NMCI NMCI) program, the Marine Corps decided to part ways with HP and their Navy brethren, opting for a government-owned and government-operated (GO-GO) approach going forward.
Now the Navy has decided to buy a little more insurance on their timing. Defense Systems reported this week that the Navy awarded Hewlett Packard a $680 million extension to their existing continuity of services contract (CoSC) for NMCI. The CoSC is designed as a bridge contract between the existing NMCI and NGEN while the Navy works to launch the follow-on. (The Navy had already bumped the CoSC ceiling by $1.2 billion in February.)
But that’s not all. On the same day Nextgov reported that the Navy has relieved the NGEN program manager for an “improper relationship” with a female contractor. While the Navy emphasized that the female contractor had nothing to do with NGEN, the timing of the removal – just days before the anticipated award of the contract – is at least curious.
Hopefully, when the NGEN award is finally made there won’t be any protests to further delay the program even further. I would like to say that stranger things could happen, but given NGEN’s track record so far I’m not sure I want to go there.