Army readies $500 million 'infostructure' contract

Army officials plan to release a solicitation for a $500 million contract this fall to overhaul nearly every aspect of the service's information technology infrastructure.

The IT Enterprise Solutions (ITES) contract is a key piece in the Army Enterprise Infostructure Transformation (AEIT) program, which aims to reduce the cost of maintaining information systems while improving access to information and applications.

ITES is designed to "meet the evolving requirements for commercial IT products and services to support the Army's worldwide mission," said Kevin Carroll, program executive officer for the Army's Enterprise Information Systems, speaking last week at Army IT Day in McLean, Va.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract will have up to three contractors in each of three modules: enterprise total solutions, which encompasses the full suite of technology; commodity servers; and corporate services. Contractors can bid on one or multiple modules, Carroll said.

ITES is a follow-on to the Army Consolidated Enterprise Solutions-1 blanket purchase agreements and the Infrastructure Solutions-1 contracts, but it will eventually consolidate other contracts as well, Carroll said.

The ITES program will build on concepts being tested in an ongoing "transformation" pilot project at the Military District of Washington (MDW).

Under a contract awarded in March, a team lead by Telos Corp. will install Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 and Active Directory software on 26,000 desktop computers and servers. Active Directory enables systems administrators to manage systems on a network and control who can access particular resources.

The next step in the pilot project is to upgrade 10,000 users to the new system and award a network management contract for the military district. Proposals for that contract are due June 2, and the award is expected in mid-July, Carroll said.

A final draft of the ITES contract should be ready by the end of July, with a request for proposals coming in the fall and a formal award expected in January, he said.

Telos is "building a team as we speak" and would like to be the prime contractor on ITES, said Ralph Buona, vice president for new business development at the company.

Jay McCargo, vice president of business development at WAM!NET Government Services Inc., a provider of digital content delivery and hosting services, said both Army contracts are attractive not only from a financial standpoint, but also because the service is moving "rapidly and decisively."

McCargo's company has agreements in place to partner with systems integrators on the AEIT initiatives, and he applauded the Army for using the MDW's pilot program as a test bed for its enterprise vision

"The Army is testing in small chunks what they intend to buy in bigger bites," he said.

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Fixing the plumbing

The Army's Information Technology Enterprise Solutions contract will cover:

* Commercial items.

* Departmentwide and enterprisewide 32-bit servers.

* Enterprise storage devices.

* Managed desktop and portable computers.

* Operating systems.

* Peripherals.

* Local- and wide-area networking.

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