Procurement

Army to streamline commercial IT purchases

Soliders at ease

In a move designed to improve the way the Army purchases and tracks its IT equipment, officials on July 5 announced a new process for certain IT buys.

The Army CIO/G-6 office now will assume responsibility for granting waivers for Army components seeking to buy commercial off-the-shelf technologies from alternative sources. Previously, that decision rested with the Army Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions (CHESS) office, the primary source for Army IT purchases.

"This change will bring the Army one step closer to the goal of ensuring visibility and accountability of all IT expenditures throughout the Army," CHESS Program Manager Brendan Burke wrote in an Army release. "With the signing of the policy memorandum on June 6, 2013, the Secretary of the Army formalized the collaborative effort lead by the CIO/G-6 to help the Army better track all IT expenditures across the force."

The new policy also designates a single website for requests from components seeking a waiver – something that is done in situations where there is no adequate CHESS contract vehicle, or if users require capabilities that are not part of a current CHESS contract, the release noted. The Goal 1 Waiver website will serve as a central point for non-CHESS IT purchase requests to be fully vetted, according to the release.

"This effort will ensure customer compliance with Army policies, as well as capture more details about the amount and type of funding being executed outside of the CHESS program," Burke wrote. "By combining the data collected from the G1W and the existing sales data available from CHESS contracts, the Army will improve the visibility into total IT spending."

The policy change is part of broader, Army-wide efforts spearheaded by the CIO/G-6 office to collaborate on and keep track of IT acquisition. With the new plans the Army also aims to cut down on costs and improve standardization and compliance.

The migration of the waiver approval for [COTS IT] purchases outside of the CHESS program to the CIO/G-6 represents a significant change in business process for the Army, Burke wrote. "Like any change in process, this change could potentially impact procurement plans for the end of the fiscal year. However, it also reflects the kind of change that is needed to achieve the increased visibility, cost savings, and improved network security required by the Army directive to achieve IT management reform."

The Army release also includes an FAQ with more information for those affected by the policy change.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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