Navy reins in employee purchases of mobile devices, services

The Navy has issued a policy mandating that all employees use either the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet or Fleet and Industrial Supply Center San Diego contracts to purchase cell phones and other mobile devices and services.

The policy, signed Monday by John Young Jr., assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, is effective immediately for new contracts and Oct. 1 for contracts that expire at the end of the fiscal year.

'In no case shall these equipments or services be obtained under any other contractual vehicle,' Young wrote in the memorandum.

Steven M. Ehrler, the Navy's program executive officer for IT, said the move is designed to give leaders a better idea of what the Navy spends each year on wireless devices and services. Prior to the mandate, employees purchased mobile phones, services and personal digital assistants in a decentralized way, Ehrler said.

'Now we're taking more of a corporate perspective. How much of this do we own? How much do we buy?' Ehrler explained. 'This is kind of the start for the overall process to try to economize in all respects the procurement of mobile services.'

The Navy is also reviewing a similar arrangement for server procurements, Ehrler added.

'This was spawned out of the department's request to get at what we're spending,' Ehrler said. 'We are looking at the various IT commodity contracts that are in place and being used by the department. What we're trying to do is take a look at all the various IT efforts and see how they interrelate and try to put together a corporate management perspective on this.'

Ehrler said that by consolidating mobile equipment and services, the Navy has the potential to achieve economy of scale in getting the contract prices down. The consolidation also improves security because it gives the Navy an idea of what devices are being procured, he added.

Ron Swecker, the Navy's project director for the initiative, conceded that the two contract vehicles are limited and that it might take employees longer to procure devices and services because of Navy requirements. Still, Swecker said the Navy put as much flexibility as possible into the vehicles and that most commercial technologies available at stores can be purchased through NMCI or FISCSD.

'The organization wishing to make a procurement would look at both contract vehicles and the options offered, make a business decision on the different aspects that meet their specific needs and follow through the procurement process using the structure that both organizations have built,' Swecker said.

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