The Navy is signaling further delays in the release of a solicitation for a multibillion dollar recompetition of its largest IT contract after making another round of unexpected changes to its requirements.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command posted portions of another draft version of its request for proposals for the larger of two segments of the upcoming Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract, known as Service Management Integration and Transport (SMIT).
The latest draft does not explicitly ask vendors for comments, but indicates they will have an opportunity to ask clarifying questions before submitting their final bids, once the final RFP is out. The draft suggests the Navy now expects contractors to submit their final bids by Nov. 19.
“There are a number of changes after going through various government reviews, some minor and some a bit more significant,” Ed Austin, a spokesman for SPAWAR’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, said. “The updated documents have been posted in keeping with our efforts to continually involve industry, and keep them apprised of changes.”
The release of another draft for the SMIT procurement came one day after the Navy released a final RFP for the other portion of the NGEN recompete, a contract to deliver end-user hardware for 400,000 users.
In its last communication with vendors in mid-July, the Navy predicted that final RFPs for both the SMIT and end-user hardware portions of NGEN would be released by July 31. But they cautioned at the time that the solicitations still needed to be reviewed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. The changes the Navy published this week were apparently the product of those reviews.
The recompetition of the NGEN contract has been in the works for several years, and has been delayed several times as Navy officials sought the best way to break the existing contract structure into smaller pieces, while also integrating other IT networks, such as the overseas ONE-Net.
SMIT is the larger and more complex of the two contracts the service intends to solicit. The winning vendor will deliver most of IT infrastructure that makes up the Navy’s portion of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), including voice, video and data services, and serve as the lead integrator for tying smaller service providers together. The contractor will also provide support services to the Marines, which own and operate their portion of NMCI.
The new contracts, known as “NGEN-R,” will replace the single $3.5 billion award the Navy made to HP in 2013. Despite a series of corporate acquisitions, spinoffs and mergers, various iterations of the same corporate entity (now called Perspecta) have been responsible for managing NMCI since its inception 18 years ago.
The task orders the service awards under the new contract vehicle may end up being smaller however, since the Navy is also contemplating separate contracts for cloud and productivity services that would eventually replace at least some of the IT offerings it currently delivers through NMCI.
Tuesday’s release to industry included only portions of the latest draft; officials said the remaining sections and attachments would be released by Friday. They added that the Navy now expects to award a SMIT contract by June 30, 2019. Previously, contracting officials had told vendors to plan for an award by the end of March.