Army preps $800 million infostructure RFP

Army Small Computer Program

The Army will soon release a request for proposals on an $800 million project aimed at overhauling 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 program, which aims to reduce the cost of maintaining information systems while improving access to information and applications.

The contract 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. He added that a statement of objective and a statement of work for ITES are nearing completion.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract will have up to five vendors in each of its two modules: enterprise hardware solutions and enterprise mission support services solutions (EMS3), Carroll said. Contractors can bid on one or multiple modules, but two awards for mission support services are reserved for small businesses, he said.

"We're expecting to issue, in the March timeframe, an RFP for ITES that will include both pieces," Carroll said following his Jan. 22 remarks at an executive breakfast sponsored by Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., consulting firm, and Federal Computer Week. The Army hopes to award the contracts this summer.

Steve Miller, product leader with the Army Small Computer Program who is leading the ITES acquisition, said Jan. 23 that the total estimated value of the contract is $800 million, which is up from last summer's estimate of $500 million.

The hardware portion of the ITES contract is complete. The program office, however, is still working to ensure that the EMS3 task orders are performance based, Carroll said. Performance-based contracts require that the Army re-engineer established business practices and other resistance issues, which is "tough to do with fixed pricing," he said.

The contracting method for the hardware module is IDIQ, fixed-price, while the services module is IDIQ but has flexible pricing methods based on the requirement. Therefore, it could be fixed-priced, cost-plus award/incentive fee or other variables "based on what makes sense," Carroll said.

"For example, if we tried to fixed-price on the delivery of a complete consolidated solution for the northeast part of the country using the IDIQ contract, the unknowns may come back to bite us through numerous contract modifications, so we are looking at a number of ways to contract for these solutions in a different performance-based manner, hence the difficulty," Carroll said.

The program office briefed the Army chief information officer's advisory board on its priorities for the ITES project. The board has approved the acquisition strategy, "and we're putting it into words now," Carroll said. He added that his office has also done outward budget planning for ITES, but the CIO board has not yet approved that funding.

"The hope is that in [fiscal] 2004, we'll have the money from the CIO, or that [the Network Enterprise Technology Command] and the [Directors of Information Management] can do some solutions buying," Carroll said.

The Network Enterprise Technology Command (Netcom) was launched last October to provide management for the Army's IT and networks as an enterprise. Carroll said Netcom and ITES have the same Achilles heel: a lack of funding.

"Funding is in short supply and that will continue in 2003," he said.

Carroll said there are three main reasons for the Army's technology budget crunch:

* The ongoing war on terrorism.

* Forward funding for a possible war in Iraq.

* Large amounts of money dedicated to the Army's Future Combat Systems, which will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to give soldiers capabilities for command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and non-line-of-sight weapons firing, and personnel transport.

Carroll also said that the program office will soon assume responsibility of DOD's Joint Logistics Warfighting Initiative, a Pentagon-led effort to enable commanders in all military services to look across the department's various logistics systems "to see who has what," he said.

The initiative is an experiment designed to bring the best commercial solutions and practices available to demonstrate Web-based requisitioning, consolidated real-time asset visibility in a shared data environment, and a way to measure customer wait time to time definite delivery standards.

The Army's program manager for logistics expects to take over the initiative in March and will work to determine the best way to manage the various DOD systems for expanded future use, Carroll said.

"This year, things are all screwed up" with the budget, said Army CIO Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello. He added that the service already has gone through most of its fiscal 2003 fourth-quarter funding and is now eating into third-quarter dollars to fund the ongoing war effort.

"I can't tell you how fast. . .but we are going to start [ITES]," Cuviello said.

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