N/MCI Contract Award on Hold

The death of Rep. Herbert Bateman, a Republican from Virginia, chairman of the House Military Readiness Subcommittee, is almost certain to delay the award of the Navy's planned US$16 billion intranet contract.

The Navy had been expected to award the contract for the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (N/MCI) as early as this week, but industry sources say it will be delayed by at least a week.

Bateman, a critic of the Navy's planned $16 billion intranet contract, died early Monday. He was 72.

Earlier this year, Bateman had criticized the Navy for failing to consult Congress about funding for N/MCI. He was concerned that readiness funding would be diverted to the project.

But he became a supporter of the project to link Navy and Marine facilities worldwide with a single intranet system after meeting with Navy officials and holding a series of hearings on the subject.

"Everyone assumes that the conference was on track to resolve the issues and come up with a compromise that was workable," an industry source said. "Mr. Bateman's staff has been at the epicenter of this exchange."

Industry sources said most of the issues surrounding the multibillion-dollar project had been worked out in House and Senate negotiations over the fiscal 2001 Defense authorization bill that ended Sunday night. The only outstanding issue is how to soften the funding impact on Naval depots and shipyards that fear a loss of funding because of the project.

Meanwhile, lawmakers expressed sorrow over Bateman's death.

"Rep. Herb Bateman was a strong working partner throughout the many years we served together in the U.S. Congress, particularly in fighting for a strong military and the welfare of the men and women in uniform, their families, and military retirees," said Sen. John Warner , a Republican from Virginia, who worked with Bateman on the N/MCI issue.

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