Army may change policy on IT procurements

LAS VEGAS—The Army will follow the Air Force Commodity Council's lead on hardware and software purchases.

Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the Army’s CIO, is considering making it mandatory for users to go through the Army Desktop Mobile Computing procurement vehicle to save dollars, promote enterprise solutions, enhance interoperability and improve security, according to Kevin Carroll, the Army’s program executive officer for enterprise information systems (PEO EIS). Until it becomes mandatory, Army users are being encouraged to buy in bulk using ADMC.

"This is the number one priority of the Army Small Computer Program," Carroll said today during the kickoff of ASCP's annual IT conference. Carroll said ADMC is one of seven "building-block" procurements his division is managing for the Army.

Carroll said the Army has closely followed the Air Force model for its quarterly consolidated IT purchases and wants to adapt it to suit the Army culture, which is much larger and more decentralized than the Air Force’s.

Michelina LaForgia, assistant program manager ASCP, said the service had solicited industry feedback on its plan to move forward with the commodity buys. The service is expected to issue a draft policy within the next week or so and also is soliciting feedback from the major commands, program executive officers and directors of information management.

In the Air Force, the IT Commodity Council has reaped substantial benefits from its consolidated quarterly procurements of hardware, becoming a model for aggregating purchases across the Defense Department.

Discussing the other building-block procurements the Army is focusing on this year and next, Carroll referenced:

  • The Army Knowledge Online portal, which PEO EIS picked up responsibilities for this month. Previously, AKO was managed by the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command. AKO is the enterprise portal for the Army, and Boutelle will "force people to put applications behind it," Carroll said. An award date for the AKO contract is anticipated for the end of June.

  • Infrastructure Modernization, known as IMOD, is a plan to update the fiber-optic cable and wireless communications lines at major Army bases and installations. The RFP is behind schedule "due to priority changes in 2005," Carroll said, but will be released in the next four months. IMOD is expected to cost roughly $4 billion, and the Army is hoping to award up to eight contracts through the procurement.

  • Worldwide Satellite Systems is a program bringing the Combat Support System Very Small Aperture Terminals to troops on the battlefields of Iraq. Last fall, the Army began fielding the CSS VSAT terminals in Iraq. By the end of fiscal 2006, the service will field more than 700 of the systems. The units include Global Positioning System receivers, motorized satellite antennas and notebook computers running special logistics applications. The systems are easy to use, take about 30 minutes to set up, cost about $75,000 each and let troops send requisitions for parts electronically, Carroll said.

  • Biometrics. The Army's PEO EIS is inheriting the work of trying to pull together biometric data combed from databases in Iraq and to keep it in a centralized system. Carroll said the biometrics program, which is expected to be a big program for the Army in 2006, will utilize enterprise solutions.

  • Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-2 Services is a products and services consolidated contract vehicle with a $20 billion ceiling. ITES-2S, which will run for nine years, is a follow-on contract to the original ITES program. The Army plans to release a request for proposals on ITES-2S by the end of this month and award the contracts Oct. 18. The Army tapped 17 companies to compete for contracts.

  • Enterprise Software Initiative is a Defense Department initiative to consolidate requirements and establish enterprise agreements with vendors to save the military money on software by buying in bulk.

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