DISA takes another crack at GIG-BE fiber

The Defense Information Systems Agency will recompete parts of the fiber-optic cable portion of the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program because it did not issue all the contracts in September.

DISA awarded a contract to two vendors last month worth up to $390 million to purchase fiber and for them to maintain it. But the deals did not cover all of the areas the military wanted, officials said in an Oct. 16 statement.

Officials at DISA, the Defense Department's information technology administration and maintenance arm, said in a public notice this month that they did not award all the GIG-BE fiber contracts for "multiple reasons." They declined to name those reasons.

DISA negotiated leasing fiber for 25 years or 10 years, which it favored, or buying it, industry officials said. The agency likely decided to recompete portions of the GIG-BE fiber contract because it did not get a fair deal, they said.

GIG-BE is one of DOD's most closely watched IT programs and a critical piece of its network-centric operations plan. That $886 million initiative will link 100 land sites worldwide so warfighters and analysts can quickly post and send intelligence and other information.

DISA would not identify the two companies that won the fiber deals because of security concerns, but Qwest Communications International Inc. was the top candidate, industry officials said. The contract did not involve foreign military sales, and the new ones won't either, the agency statement said.

With help from Science Applications International Corp., DISA also is testing hardware in four categories for the $336 million GIG-BE program equipment contracts due in late December. They include long-haul optics, optical cross switches, multiservice provisioning platforms and IP routers.

"The proposed equipment solution, which includes products from all four categories, is being tested and evaluated for security, interoperability and operational integrity," DISA officials said in the statement.

"We have a pretty good idea of the GIG-BE equipment finalists," said Steve Levy, senior telecom analyst at Lehman Brothers. "Unless you screw up the trials, you're a lock."

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