Defense

$12B Army IT RFP is out

CHESS Product Lead Thomas Neff.

CHESS Product Lead Thomas Neff

The Army has issued a request for proposals for a $12 billion IT services contracting vehicle that will shape Army IT acquisitions for years to come.

The RFP for IT Enterprise Solutions–3 Services (ITES-3S), which could last for up to nine years, is one of the Army’s strategic sources for IT services and will be "very small business friendly," said Thomas Neff, product lead for the Army’s Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, in an appearance at AFCEA’s Aberdeen chapter in Belcamp, Md.

The room was full of contractors, some of whom expressed to FCW their eagerness to see the RFP hit the street, though all declined to talk on the record.

Cuts to the CHESS travel budget will make it harder for the Army component on its own to drum up interest across the service in ITES-3S, according to Neff.  "We're looking, obviously, for industry folks that are going to go out and help sell this vehicle," he said.

ITES-2S dates back to 2006. As of last year it had generated $10 billion in contracts, Stephani Antona, a Deltek research analyst, told FCW. The contracting vehicle's flexibility has made it a backup plan of sorts for agency contracting. The Air Force, for instance, turned to ITES-2S when it ran into delays on its own Network-Centric Solutions-2 group of contracts.

Now the IT services vehicle is moving into a new phase. Neff has said he wants ITES-3S to reflect new mission requirements in cloud computing and cybersecurity, benchmarks that likely weren’t around when ITES-2S was conceived.

Neff said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the number of task orders made under ITES-2S in fiscal 2015, given that there was a delay in extending the ordering period under the vehicle. He expected the task orders issued to total well below $500 million, but said instead that the contracting period ended up being lucrative. 

The Army CHESS product lead also reflected on guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget in October 2015 to cut down on the number of federal laptop and desktop computer contracts.

"Where OMB wants to take the [Defense Department] is a little more standardization on the types of configurations that people are going to buy," he said.

"I have my own thoughts on whether the OMB strategy is going to work," Neff said coyly. After his presentation, he told FCW that there will be some across the federal government who will want to cling to their old IT acquisition habits, and who will need time to adjust to the OMB guidance.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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