Critical procurement system running out of headroom

The Defense Department's program for fielding the $326 million Standard Procurement System may soon come to a screeching halt at various Navy and Marine Corps installations unless a solution can be found for the system's skyrocketing storage requirements.

SPS is intended to automate the often tedious and complicated process that DOD procurement shops use to buy supplies. American Management Systems Inc. won the SPS contract in 1997 and based the system's development on a version of the company's commercial Procurement Desktop software that was modified to serve the DOD contracting community.

In an official Navy memorandum obtained by Federal Computer Week, senior Navy SPS program officials told Gary Thurston, the SPS program manager at the Defense Logistics Agency, that SPS "mission execution" may be put in jeopardy unless immediate action is taken to beef up storage capacity and other SPS-related hardware at five Navy installations.

According to the memorandum, the Navy has predicted that SPS servers in Yokosuka, Japan; China Lake, Calif.; Puget Sound; Jacksonville, Fla.; and San Diego will run out of storage capacity in the next seven to 12 months (see chart). The repercussions of such an event range from decreased user productivity to "catastrophic system failures...[resulting in] possible data loss," the memo stated.

SPS is not scheduled to receive a data archiving solution until the fielding of Version 5.0 of the software in 2003, according to an AMS memo sent on Dec. 16 outlining "Database Growth and PD2 Performance Improvements." According to the AMS document, adding archiving capabilities before the fielding of Version 5.0 would result in a massive architecture redesign and would require the solution to be rewritten when Version 5.0 is fielded.

Responding to FCW's request for an interview, SPS program manager Gary Thurston said, "We are working with AMS Inc. to address short term solutions as well as when a full archiving capability could be delivered." He added, "The use of e-business and e-commerce requires site-specific planning as storage requirements are based on the amount of mission workload at each site."

The AMS and Navy documents also point to several other factors that may stall the program even longer. For example, the fielding of a subset of the Version 5.0 archiving solution would require approval from the National Archives and Records Administration, which may take a year. In addition, although Extensible Markup Language may provide a solution, development may take seven months. Finally, "all of AMS' developers are already committed to v4.2 and v4.1 maintenance development," according to the memo.

As a result, "AMS estimates that the Navy will not see any archiving functionality for at least 20 to 27 months," the memo states.

The need for an archiving capability in SPS is "real and urgent," the Navy memo stated. However, additional sources of funding to pay for the upgrades have not been identified. "Few claimants are likely to have projected the rate of SPS database growth that they are currently experiencing, nor have they procured or budgeted for hardware which can maintain optimal, or even adequate, performance levels as the system grows."

SiteCurrent Database
Size (gigabytes)
Estimated Date Full
Yokosuka4.1Jan. 2000
NAWC China Lake3.9March 2000
FISC Puget Sound5.0Oct. 2000
FISC Jacksonville3.6July 2001
FISC San Diego8.5April 2002


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