Acquisition

DISA handed off its $8 billion cloud buy to GSA. Now what?

shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930 

The Defense Information Systems Agency is looking to become an enterprise technology operator for more than the Defense Department.

"Nobody in industry or across the government scales to the size we do," agency head Vice Adm. Nancy Norton said at a media briefing at DISA's industry day Nov. 5 outside of Baltimore. "We have the expertise to learn, deploy and operate enterprise scales that other people typically don't, and that comes with the great opportunity to maximize those efficiencies."

And the Pentagon's $8 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solutions buy is poised to be an example of that scalability beyond the Defense Department. The DEOS procurement was shifted to the General Services Administration's Schedule 70 vehicle, with DISA doing the implementation and deployment.

By letting GSA lead the DEOS procurement, officials said, DOD is shifting from an overly prescriptive strategy to letting the market tell it what's possible.

Brian Hermann, DISA's enterprisewide service development division chief, stressed the need for interoperability between multiple vendor products as a major concern for DEOS execution.

"With GSA in the procurement role, the ordering process for the entire federal government will be a little bit more standardized," Hermann said. "So we imagine DOD customers going into GSA to do their ordering, but the program office at DISA will still continue to be the place where the Department of Defense ensures interoperability, cybersecurity, etc., making sure we integrate capabilities vendors bring with our existing infrastructure enterprise directory services and cloud access points, etc."

The $8 billion question is how many vendors will win under DEOS.

"We don't know necessarily know what the right answer is" on whether DEOS should be single or multiple award, Hermann said, adding that it is a question industry is expected to answer in a way that also guarantees DOD gets its interoperability needs met.

Hermann added that while other parts of the federal government don't have the same requirements as DOD, the DEOS solicitation could ultimately produce multiple offers that satisfy other agency needs. "We don't want to recreate the solution where we have common functional requirements," he said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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