The Defense Department’s partnership with the General Services Administration leads to a rethought Defense Enterprise Office Solutions competition.
The Defense Department is seeking sources under the General Services Administration’s IT Schedule 70 to meet Defense Enterprise Office Solutions capabilities rather than bid the contract out itself as once planned.
The Pentagon, in partnership with the Defense Information Systems Agency and GSA, split what was an estimated $8 billion procurement into three chunks. The first phase will include commercial hardware and software tools and services focused on communication and collaboration, according to a request for information released Thursday.
The RFI seeks industry responses by Nov. 9 for phase one, and Pentagon officials told reporters Thursday they aim to use feedback gleaned from industry to issue a request for quotes in early 2019, with the goal of awarding a contract or contracts for phase one by the third quarter of 2019.
Phases two and three of the Enterprise Collaboration and Productivity Services program (ECAPS), which focus on voice, video and other services, will be addressed later.
Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy said the decision to “take a step back” will allow the Pentagon to hone in on cloud offerings available today that fit its needs. The Pentagon’s cloud strategy calls for a multicloud, multivendor environment but Deasy said he intends to have different clouds that address specific needs within the department.
“This isn’t going to be the only fit-for-purpose cloud across DOD, it’s just a natural fit for the strategy we created,” Deasy said. “Let’s not reinvent the wheel. This is a tried and proven approach here we’re taking advantage of. We should always be taking advantage of that in all we do.”
Commercial cloud offerings under DEOS will improve refresh rates of hardware, software and other capabilities, and supply constant innovation to “better support the warfighter,” he said. Each military branch currently has its own enterprise email systems, which collectively cost approximately $9 billion to operate over the past 11 years, but Deasy does not expect resistance in migrating to DEOS’ solutions.
“Everybody wants this—everybody wants a quick, efficient way to get costs down and take advantage of innovation faster,” Deasy said. “I have not come across any components across [the Defense Department] that have said this is not a good idea. I’ve gotten more push on, ‘Can you move faster?’”
Under the ECAPS program, the Defense Department plans to acquire a secure, seamlessly integrated, commercial cloud-based software-as-a-service offering to replace legacy IT services, including email, content and records management, audio and video, with an office productivity suite.
DEOS, the first phase under ECAPS, will provide cloud services to all military branches on both of the Pentagon’s main networks, the NIPRNET for sensitive but unclassified information and the SIPRNET for classified information. Services will be hosted in commercial cloud facilities for services that are located inside the United States but will have to be built into Defense data centers for services outside the U.S.
“The integrated suite of services will be a secure replacement for legacy stove-piped enterprise offerings including, but not limited to, enterprise email and content management services,” the RFI states.
The document includes a lengthy question and answer section focused on firms’ previous experience with similar contracts and their ability to meet department needs. It also focuses on whether firms are currently on IT Schedule 70, a catch-all contracting vehicle for information technology.
The partnership with GSA allows the DEOS program office to do more mission-focused work, Essye Miller, principal deputy to the DOD CIO, said. GSA recently collaborated with the Air Force and FBI in similar moves.
“GSA is excited to be partnering with the Defense Department to modernize its architecture and help replace its siloed systems,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy told reporters. “By partnering with GSA, [the Defense Department] will be able to use a proven contracting vehicle and benefit from GSA’s expertise.”
The Pentagon released a draft request for proposal for the DEOS program in April, and officials previously hoped to bid the contract out over the summer and issue awards in mid-2019. The rethought process could open the door for multiple companies to win business through DEOS. Previously, the contract was tapped to go to a single vendor. It could also reduce the size and total value of the contracts awarded under DEOS. Murphy said GSA does not currently have a ceiling value for DEOS.
Federal CIO Suzette Kent called DEOS a “historic opportunity” and said civilian agencies will “benefit from innovation driven through the Defense Department.” She said GSA’s partnership with the Defense Department on DEOS will have a “whole of government” impact. As commercial cloud providers beef up their security requirements to meet Defense Department needs, civilian customers will get to make use of them, too.
Kent also said DEOS will convene at least one industry day slated for December.
Joseph Marks contributed to this report.