Defense

DoD plans upgrade to COBOL-based contract system

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WHAT: The Department of Defense wants ideas on upgrading its legacy contract management system.

WHY: The Mechanization of Contract Administration Services (MOCAS) is very, very old. The contract management and payment system celebrated its 50th birthday in 2008 -- back then the Defense Contract Management Agency noted that the ancient, COBOL-based system had most recently cheated death in 2002, and bragged that it would probably be around for another 20 to 30 years.

According to a July 7 request for information posted by DCMA, however, reports of the survival of MOCAS may be exaggerated.

Right now, DCMA isn't looking for proposals for a replacement system, but for ideas on how to best convert a sprawling mainframe system with more than 2 million lines of programming code (in COBOL and the database language Mantis), supporting 50 interfaces with DoD financial and contract writing systems with a more modern, integrated solution.

The stakes are high. DCMA manages 334,000 contracts valued at about $1.2 trillion, and payments from the MOCAS system "represent a very large percentage of dollars paid to vendors" by DoD.

DCMA is looking for insight on approaches to modernizing legacy systems, approaches to data conversion, timelines and personnel required for a massive upgrade, required changes to business processes, and recommendations on programming languages or technologies that can handle the transaction volume and large user population currently supported by MOCAS.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Tue, Jul 8, 2014

DoD waited until almost everyone, who had a good understanding of MOCAS, retired. Instead of using internal resources they twice picked contractors to rewrite the system. Both efforts failed.

Tue, Jul 8, 2014

ooo.. Cobol. So twentieth-century. They need to just drop it all on Visual-Windows and no programming necessary, just drag&drop one thingy to another thingy and everything works like magic. (according to my Microsoft salesman)

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