A leap in connectivity for global grid

DISA sees $3 billion procurement for up to 5,000 circuits as a commodity buy

The Defense Information Systems Agency kicked off a procurement battle last week for circuits that will connect 1,500 U.S. locations to DISA's fiber-optic backbone. Industry consultants are predicting fierce competition for the four regional contracts that will be awarded.

An intense competition suits Tony Montemarano, program director for DISA's Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE). Montemarano said he views the Defense Information Systems Network Access Transport Services (DATS) procurement as a commodity buy, "which will give us the most bang for our buck."

To maximize competition, DISA plans to award up to four 10-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts covering all regions of the United States, Montemarano said. The procurement has a $3 billion ceiling, he said. The number of circuits covered by DATS could peak at more than 5,000.

Montemarano said those circuits will connect bases and stand-alone Defense Department buildings to the GIG-BE. By September, the grid will have almost 90 nodes. DATS will also provide some point-to-point circuits. DISA will handle overall management and switching services.

The DATS request for proposals asks bidders to eventually be capable of providing broadband fiber circuits operating at speeds of up to 10 gigabits/sec. DISA needs contractors to be able to supply such circuits in the future to accommodate DOD's growing bandwidth requirements, Montemarano said.

The RFP also calls for a supply of lower-speed circuits, including 3 KHz voice connections. "We would hope the vendors would bundle such circuits," he said.

The request contains an option for contractors to install circuits and network equipment on bases, which Montemarano said "could potentially be a fair amount of work."

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, compared the relationship between GIG-BE and DATS to a mainline railroad and its feeder lines. "DISA has built its own railroad with GIG-BE, and now they have to build track to all the locations in the hinterlands," he said.

Suss said he expected all the major carriers serving the federal market, including local carriers such as Verizon and long-distance carriers such as MCI, to vie for one or more of the DATS contracts.

Marlin Forbes, vice president for defense and international markets at MCI, said the company plans to bid on DATS. He pegged the contract's value at $200 million to $350 million, which is lower than early industry estimates of up to $500 million.

Forbes said that as a commodity buy, DATS precludes bidders from offering bundled options that could deliver other potential savings.

Jim McGann, an AT&T spokesman, said the company plans to submit a best-in-class bid for DATS. AT&T has the domestic Defense Information Systems Network transmission contract, which DATS will replace. Diana Gowen, senior vice president for government services sales at Qwest Communications International, said Qwest also plans to bid on DATS.

Montemarano said bidders can submit questions about the contract until July 5, after which DISA could issue amendments. Bids are due Aug. 16. Montemarano said he expects DISA to award DATS contracts before the end of the year. n

Circuits RFP reveals base connections

It's hard to hide military bases, many of which have been around for a century or more. But that was the net effect when the Defense Information Systems Agency decided to make the network nodes for its fiber-optic Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) classified information.

Potential bidders on the new Defense Information Systems Network Access Transport Services (DATS) contracts worried that a similar classification would be applied to DATS, making it difficult to bid on circuits whose endpoints were cloaked in secrecy.

Vendors don't need to worry. Although the GIG-BE nodes remain classified, the DATS request for proposals and its four attachments include a massive list of circuits and base connections nationwide.

— Bob Brewin

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group