DISA searches for new acquisition life with SETI

Shutterstock image: global network of information sharing. 

The Defense Information Systems Agency is looking to breathe new life into its acquisition process with the launch of its $7.5 billion Systems Engineering Technology and Innovation program.

DISA conceived the new indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity acquisition vehicle last year and has just released its initial request for proposals.

"SETI will consolidate and streamline critical engineering expertise to research, design, develop, implement, integrate and optimize DOD IT capabilities, systems and solutions," SETI's Program Manager Christopher Riley told FCW by email.

The multi-award SETI vehicle will be available to all DISA and DOD mission partners and is scheduled to run for 10 years. The program is geared towards "future mission requirements, next-generation technological advancements and new disruptive innovation that causes paradigm shifts in the ways that warfighters interact with DOD's information technology," Riley said.

According to the 131-page solicitation document, SETI's four strategic objectives are to evolve the Joint Information Environment, deliver Joint Command and Control and leadership support, "operate and assure the enterprise" and "optimiz[e] its investments within a resource-constrained environment."

Like the DOD's Defense Innovation Unit Experimental and the Army's Rapid Capabilities Office, SETI is designed to upend the traditional acquisition process with faster and more flexible contracting.

"Within SETI, program managers and requirements owners will have several new capabilities to use for creative problem solving, and contractors will be afforded new and frequent opportunities to engage with the government to showcase their capabilities," Riley said.

The new engagement opportunities will include "contractor demonstrations," where contractors can present new ideas or technologies not currently under consideration by government. In addition, SETI will involve "contractor competitions" where SETI will present problem sets or technology requirements, and industry "will be provided a quick, flexible way to get innovative solutions or emerging technologies under contract."

Riley said that SETI will extend across seven high-level performance areas, such as systems engineering, design analysis, systems architecture and systems deployment and lifecycle engineering.

Requirement areas include network engineering, satellite communications, spectrum engineering, cybersecurity, cloud engineering and cognitive computing.

SETI also moves away from lowest price model to a best value tradeoff approach.

"Innovation is the most important non-price/cost source selection factor, and SETI's pre-qualified pool of contractors will be continuously encouraged to propose to DISA and DOD requirements those innovative approaches that will deliver more agile, cost-effective and smarter solutions," Riley said.

SETI includes a restricted pool for small business and an unrestricted pool. "Teaming agreements are anticipated and expected to provide a vast wealth of capabilities for our requirement owners across both restricted and unrestricted competition pools," Riley said.

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


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