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 and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

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


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