AKO could go DOD-wide in January

Army Knowledge Online could become the Web portal for the entire Defense Department by January.

The Defense Information Systems Agency first wants to provide access to AKO's collaboration tools, which could become a key component of DISA's $800 million Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES) program. NCES seeks to acquire software that will help warfighters and analysts more easily find and share information.

The Army needs two months to prepare the portal for broader use, said DISA Director Lt. Gen. Charles Croom at a luncheon last week sponsored by the Washington, D.C., chapter of AFCEA International.

DISA announced last month that it wants to turn AKO into a departmentwide Web portal for accessing the Army's, DISA's and potentially other services' products.

"The Army and DISA are talking together about how we can best take advantage of what we're doing with AKO and what they're doing with the Defense Online Portal," said Kevin Carroll, program executive officer at the Army's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, which oversees AKO.

Using AKO to help achieve NCES' goals has advantages and disadvantages, said Timothy Fong, a retired Army colonel and former AKO program manager who is now general manager of Army operations at BAE Systems' Information Technology division.

He said AKO already has 1.8 million subscribers, so the Army and DISA must consider how best to increase the portal's size and power, provide access for millions more users and offer additional security measures to protect sensitive information.

Scott Lusk, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, said the company has not had any official word from the Army on DISA's plan to use AKO for NCES. "AKO has many extended capabilities, and we're definitely interested in pursuing it," he said.

An industry team led by Lockheed Martin won a $152 million AKO Enterprise Services contract this summer to update the portal. However, CherryRoad Technologies and EDS protested -- the former based on a matter of interpretation and the latter because company officials believed the Army had not selected the proposal that offered the best value.

The Government Accountability Office ruled Nov. 14 that the Army had appropriately awarded the contract to Lockheed Martin because its bid had the highest technical rating and offered the lowest price.

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