NMCI gets a new lease on life

Chris Christopher

The Navy will pay Electronic Data Systems Corp. an additional $1.96 billion to extend the base period of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet contract from five to seven years.

Federal acquisition laws required the Navy and EDS to get congressional permission to extend the contract. With the extension, the NMCI contract is now worth $8.82 billion.

Navy officials sought the extension because of repeated delays in the rollout caused by problems in adapting legacy applications for NMCI use. Capt. Chris Christopher, director of plans, policy and operations for the NMCI Office, said the extension was needed to get the contract back on track.

'We have no plans or anticipation that we'll need to do this again,' Christopher said. 'This puts us back to where we were when we went into this.'

The Navy faced many unexpected challenges in fielding NMCI, particularly the number of legacy apps that it had to review and the stringent testing required by Congress and Defense Department brass.

'We have taken longer than we ever envisioned,' Christopher said. 'Back in 2000, we had this notion we'd all be fully deployed after a year.'

100,000 legacy apps

The Navy had to review more than 100,000 legacy apps in use servicewide. That number has been whittled down to about 27,000, Clarke said. Also, Congress and Defense demanded more testing of NMCI systems after the contract's award.

The Navy now predicts it will complete the NMCI rollout by early 2004. The extension gives the service three years to try out the voice, video and data portal before deciding whether to continue NMCI during the three option years, which would take the contract to 2010.

Lorrie Scardino, a research director at Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn., said she sees the extension 'as a promising sign for the contract.' The Navy gets a higher rollout of services, she said, while EDS gets to 'recoup the investment it made in the contract.'

Christopher said the Navy has paid EDS about $170 million for the roughly 35,000 PCs and peripherals cut over to NMCI so far. Eventually, more than 366,000 Navy and Marine Corps users are supposed to use the intranet for voice, video and data.

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