N/MCI Watchdog Bateman Dead at 72

Rep. Herbert Bateman, a Republican from Virginia, chairman of the House Military Readiness Subcommittee and a onetime critic of the Navy's US$16 billion intranet contract, died today. He was 72.

Bateman, who had announced his plan to retire this year because of poor health, had watched over the largest slice of the Pentagon's budget that included the controversial plan to develop the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (N/MCI) program - a worldwide network linking vessels and Navy and Marine bases.

His death may delay a decision on whether to go forward with the program. The Navy planned to award the contract this month, but Bateman had asked Navy officials to wait until he and other members of Congress could meet with them. The meeting was to be held after the Labor Day holiday, but it had not occurred by the end of last week.

Bateman had criticized the Navy for moving ahead aggressively without involving Congress in the funding process and had called for a General Account Office analysis on the Navy's plan to develop the intranet. The GAO's findings were to be discussed at the meeting Bateman called.

Bateman was first elected to Congress in 1982 and brought many defense contracts to his southeastern Virginia district. He resided in Newport News, which is among the world's major centers for the construction of warships.

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