NMCI software test center's opening delayed

NEW ORLEANS - A laboratory that will be used to test vendor software applications for compatibility with the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet will not open this month at the Space and Naval Warfare IT Center in New Orleans as hoped.

The NMCI Product Evaluation Center's opening has been delayed until at least the fall because of what officials called legal and contractual obligations.

The extended time will allow the Navy to finish operational testing on a prototype and to release a request for proposals in search of a vendor to operate the center.

The Navy will use the share-in-savings technique for the process, which means the service will share savings with the vendor chosen to run the lab, said Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI's deputy director for future operations, communications and business initiatives.

"The share-in-savings has not yet been done in the DOD," said Christopher during a session at yesterday's 2004 NMCI Industry Symposium. "We're building a model that we think will work. Once we have it in place, we'll take it to our legal people and our contractual people."

The model will be simple for vendors to use.

Christopher said the Navy will publish the standards that a product needs to meet to pass NMCI compatibility testing, and the procedures for submitting software to NPEC, on its site www.nmci.navy.mil.

The Navy will also require every vendor who wants a software product tested for compatibility with NMCI, which runs under Microsoft Windows 2000, to cover the costs of the tests, which could run anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 per application, Christopher said. The tests are estimated to run between one and two days per product.

"We can't afford to test every software product. We're shifting the cost from the government to industry," Christopher said.

Currently, lead NMCI contractor EDS Corp. is the "gatekeeper for technology coming into the Navy," Christopher said. The service wanted to open the field to other vendors.

If an app is found to be compatible with the $8.82 billion, enterprise voice, video and data network, NMCI acquisition officials can consider buying it.

"We're just a testing vehicle to determine whether we think it will work. This is sort of thinking of it as a Good Housekeeping seal of approval,' Christopher said.

NPEC will be integrated as the software component for another Department of Navy pilot project, the Technology Exchange Clearinghouse Pilot, run out of the DON eBusiness Office. The clearinghouse is a larger-scale process that accepts all types of technology products from vendors and keeps a listing of the products on a Web portal.


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