DHS extends timeline on enterprise cloud strategy

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The department’s much-anticipated ECLIPS contract won’t debut in fiscal 2023, as officials plan for another industry event this fall.

Those waiting for news about the Department of Homeland Security’s enterprise cloud contract can keep on waiting, at least for a couple months. 

After two months without an update about the anticipated Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure Provider Suite contract, dubbed ECLIPS, DHS officials posted a special notice Friday, signaling that there would be more work with industry on the vehicle, but not in fiscal 2023. 

DHS officials said in the notice that they planned to hold “a follow-up industry engagement event” sometime between October and November. 

It’s the first update on the proposed enterprise cloud procurement since May 1, when DHS officials assured their intent “on providing further information regarding key project milestones and anticipated completion dates.”

The potential cloud vehicle has been closely watched since the department signaled its intent to develop an enterprise plan for the federal government's third-largest agency and its 22 components more than a year ago. 

After a draft project plan emerged in September 2022, followed by an industry day in November, DHS Deputy Chief Information Officer Beth Cappello said at FCW’s Cloud-Driven Transformation event on Nov. 16 that the agency planned on finalizing the scope of the contract vehicle by either the end of the calendar year or early in 2023. 

“One of the things we are trying to facilitate at DHS [Office of the Chief Information Officer] is an acquisition strategy that will support this need for agility and flexibility and scalability within the components and basically give them an easy button,” she said at the time.

Updates followed in February and May but these did not provide much new information. Part of the challenge, Capello acknowledged in November 2022, was ensuring that DHS could provide a feasible option for its components to get to the cloud in what was a stratified IT environment of colocation sites, some on-prem facilities and multiple cloud networks.

“We have a hybrid environment,” she said. “In looking at that complexity, it’s going to be really important in this vehicle that we think about all of these things and make the vehicle as flexible as possible to meet all of the requirements across the department.” 

Plans for the contract would include infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service offerings, alongside other capabilities like cloud migration strategy, cloud-related IT professional services, multi-cloud environment management software, key management and data encryption.  Cloud service providers will need to have FedRAMP Impact Level of “Moderate” or “High" marketplace product offerings to compete on the contract.

Former DHS undersecretary for management Chris Cummiskey said in May that the agency’s deliberate approach to developing ECLIPS was part of a series of recent acquisition moves that made the department a likely enterprise IT services provider, perhaps for the first time in its history. 

"That is something that earlier CIOs wanted to achieve, but I think there was a confidence gap with some of the components as to whether or not headquarters could actually deliver top-flight services consistently in a variety of different arenas," said Cummiskey, now CEO of Cummiskey Strategic Solutions.

DHS officials said in Friday’s post that they would not anticipate any feedback requests from industry on its current draft documentation through September.