The Pentagon writes lots of large, long-term contracts, particularly for major weapons platforms. Over the past several decades, the size and duration of contractors for services, particularly in the areas of information technology (IT) and networking, have increased significantly. The problem with massive, long-duration IT contracts is that the pace of technological change often makes them out-of-date almost from the start. An example of one such big contract is the Navy’s new contract to manage multiple IT networks, called the Next Generation Enterprise-Recompete (NGEN-R). The Navy recently awarded this contact to a company without experience with Navy and Marine Corps networks. The Navy’s plan to modernize its IT networks is likely to be dead in the water for an extended period while the NGEN-R contract transitions and networks struggle to deal with the new reality of communications in the era of COVID-19. While the acquisitions folks won’t feel a bit of pain, the Sailors and Marines and the state and local communities they are trying to help certainly will. I have written more about this here.
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