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NSA Quietly Awarded a Classified $2.4 Billion Tech Contract With More to Come

NSA's headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

NSA's headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. // Patrick Semansky/AP

The National Security Agency has awarded tech firm CSRA the first of three portions of its classified Groundbreaker contract, which could potentially be worth as much as $2.4 billion over the next decade if all options are exercised.

CSRA announced the award through a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, where it acknowledged the value and duration of the contract without naming the customer agency or the contract’s name. Neither CSRA nor NSA offered comment to Nextgov for this story.

Details on Groundbreaker are sparse, but the NSA program dates back to a 2001 effort to outsource its IT operations.

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At the time, then-NSA director Michael Hayden said the contract would allow NSA to “refocus assets on the agency’s core missions of providing foreign signals intelligence and protecting U.S. national security-related information systems by turning over several information technology infrastructure services for industry’s purview.”

The agency would later use the contract to develop its own private cloud, which acts as a modern repository for all the agency’s data.

NSA awarded the first Groundbreaker contract—reportedly worth as much as $5 billion over 10 years—to a joint alliance of contractors in 2001 called the Eagle Alliance, led by Computer Sciences Corporation, which is now CSRA. The Eagle Alliance, which includes companies such as Northrop Grumman, won NSA’s first recompete of Groundbreaker, which is set to expire in its current iteration on Sept. 30.

The government’s full spend on the Groundbreaker program is not publicly disclosed, but according to a March 2016 report to investors, Groundbreaker makes up seven percent of CSRA’s annual revenue. In 2016, CSRA’s total revenue was $4.2 billion.

NSA floated a draft request for proposals for its Groundbreaker program about two years ago to various defense and technology firms that suggested a shift in the agency’s strategy.

Rather than one large follow-on contract, NSA opted to break the recompeted award into three portions, altogether totaling some $5 billion. CSRA’s award last week represents the largest of those portions, though sources familiar with CSRA’s portfolio tell Nextgov the company is competing for all three.

NSA is expected to make the final two Groundbreaker recompete awards this calendar year.

For CSRA, the Groundbreaker award adds to a run of recent contract successes. In June, the Defense Department awarded it a $400 million contract to build milCloud, a government-run cloud through which customers can order up computing, analytic, storage and other services. The company also captured a $58 million supercomputing contract from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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