CHESS pieces together big savings for Army

Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions contract maximizes Army's buying power

The Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions contract vehicle is the Army's designated primary source for commercial IT, including computers, printers, enterprise software licenses and an array of related IT services.

As the Army’s mandatory source for commercial hardware and software, CHESS has provided acquisition support to the Army since 1996 and is expanding that support to meet the evolving needs of soldiers around the globe. In 1996, the Clinger-Cohen Act introduced for the entire federal government a preference for commercial off-the-shelf products. Sales of COTS products through CHESS, known at that time as the Army Small Computer Program, peaked at $363 million. At the end of fiscal 2010, COTS sales hit $3.6 billion, bringing CHESS’ total sales to $21.5 billion. Even more significant are the savings and cost avoidance generated by the CHESS program. In fiscal 2010, CHESS generated a cost avoidance of $724 million, increasing the program’s total cost avoidance to $4.5 billion.

The tremendous success of the CHESS program can be attributed to the organization’s ability to cost effectively meet the Army’s requirement to stay abreast of technology, officials maintain.

CHESS provides a no-fee, flexible procurement strategy through which an Army user can procure COTS IT hardware, software and services via an e-commerce-based process. CHESS offers simple, straightforward contract vehicles through its online Army e-commerce ordering system, an IT e-mart. These contracts provide continuous vendor competition for best value and consolidation of requirements to maximize cost avoidance and maximize the Army's buying power.

In 2005, to increase the Army’s IT savings, CHESS established its Consolidate Buy (CB) program. A major benefit of the CB is that every soldier pays the same low unit price for a single desktop or laptop PC because the price is based on the total large quantity that the Army procures. CHESS serves as the Network Enterprise Technology Command's distribution point, so every CHESS desktop and laptop PC comes preloaded with the architecture and security standards required to run on the LandWarNet network.

No other provider of COTS products offers that assurance.

CHESS is also the Army’s Enterprise Software Initiative Software Product Manager. In this capacity, CHESS is responsible for managing the Defense Department and Army enterprise software agreements whose use has been mandated by the Army CIO. With the increased need for enterprise licenses, CHESS awarded three enterprise license agreements during fiscal 2010, including two awards for BMC software and CA help-desk software that will support the Army’s Enterprise Service Management System's Network Operations requirements. Potential cost avoidance for the two agreements is $220 million. In addition, an enterprise license award was made for Minitab, which provides the software supporting the Army’s Lean Six Sigma projects. The cost per single-user license is $194 versus the $1,700 or more outside the Army.

The CHESS office consolidated Army user requirements to provide a lower cost for each order with a quantity. These ELAs supplement the other 25 CHESS-managed ELAs valued at $2.6 billion.

Separately, to support DOD's transition to voice over IP telecommunications systems, the CHESS office collaborated with the Project Manager for Network Service Center office to make it faster and more cost-effective to purchase VOIP phones and right-to-use licenses. VOIP technology uses voice communications via an IP data network rather than a separate, dedicated voice network and is the foundation for implementing features known as unified capabilities. By itself, VOIP simply provides a service that is no different from basic telephone service. However, in purchasing VOIP phones to support VOIP infrastructure, soldiers will gain a range of additional services, including instant messaging, video calls, do-it-yourself conferencing and phone collaboration.

Because implementing VOIP capability often brings a variety of concerns not associated with conventional telephone service, CHESS has included information on its website that will assist customers in purchasing a VOIP phone.

Ultimately, CHESS contracts and license agreements leverage the Army’s enterprise purchasing power to provide state-of-the-art technology and aid in the protection of the LandWarNet.

About this Report

This special report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please e-mail us at [email protected]