Navy may take new route with huge IT contract

The Navy is rethinking the way it delivers IT to its sailors, seamen and civilians in 2018 and beyond.

The Navy is recompeting its Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), currently a $3.5 billion contract that works on the government-owned Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the Marine Corps Enterprise Network and the worldwide OneNet.

The Navy wants to award the contract by June 2018, but it’s tinkering with the way it wants to do it.

Instead of only awarding the contract to one company NGEN uses, the Navy is contemplating a multisource contract. Different services within the contract may be segmented out so different companies can run parts of the whole IT system.

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The Navy unveiled its thought process at a May 25 industry day in Vienna, Virginia.

“We’re really not content with the status quo. … I see this as another evolutionary step, where as a large scale enterprise services program office we are trying to do quite a few things and consolidate our business practices,” said Capt. Michael Abreu, program manager for the Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) Program Office. “The need for the government and the Navy to achieve that best value in a different way I think is worth exploring, so when we talk about multiple contracts. … In that [segmentation] model what we are trying to do is achieve speed and agility while still trying to balance all the rest of the things we need to do at the enterprise scale.

The Navy could segment out the contract into at least six different contracts. Those would include

  • End-user hardware, which deals with device management.
  • Productivity services, which works on voice services.
  • File sharing and cloud delivery, which focus on storage as a service and platform as a service.

Other segments would be transport, service integration and service management.

The Navy will decide the total number of segments in the fall, Abreu said.

What the contract is trying to stress is flexibility, especially considering how quickly technology changes.

Deputy Program Manager for NEN Phil Anderson said what is driving the contract change are things like customer demands and industry trends.

The Navy wants to deliver the most advanced technologies to its customers and that stresses situational awareness, network security and reliability.

“We have to transform what we consider our services to be and how we deliver those services,” Anderson said.  He added that technologies like cloud are driving the change.

But, each service is delivered differently and are delivered with different performance standards.

“We have to take the time to figure that out, which is what we are doing now,” Anderson said.

Anderson stressed that with the multisource contract seamless integration between companies is key.

That requires a well thought-out governance structure by the Navy.

“If you support a multisourcing model … you have to make sure we have the confidence that the government is not sitting at the table between two vendors watching people squabble over service level performance issues,” Anderson said. “Your agreements that you have between companies, all that stuff, has got to be rigorous, it’s got to be useful. Our customers don’t want to know how many partners there are providing the service.”

The Navy and Marine Corps began the NGEN contract in 2013 so the services would own their infrastructure and the intellectual property that goes along with it.

Before that Navy networks were owned and operated by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services. The first NGEN contract was also awarded to HPES.

The project stuttered and stopped due to bid protests and then was finally able to begin at the end of 2013.

The services fully moved their IT networks to the NGEN structure in April 2014.