DOD shifts back-office cloud buy to Schedule 70

Defense IT officials pivoted away from plans to bid out their $8 billion productivity and communications cloud contract through DISA.

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The Pentagon announced big changes to its 10-year, $8 billion back-office cloud buy today. The Defense Enterprise Office Solution solicitation, which was going to be handled internally by the Defense Information Systems Agency, is shifting to the General Services Administration's IT Schedule 70.

The Pentagon is dividing DEOS up into three capability sets. The first set covers business software, email, calendar, content management and collaboration tools. The second covers voice and video. The third capability set is devoted to secure voice and video.

In a market research notice posted Oct. 25, GSA informed firms on Schedule 70 that DOD is seeking vendors for the first of these capability sets. Responses are due Nov. 9.

At an event with reporters, Essye Miller, the DOD's principal deputy CIO said that they're looking to move quickly on the solicitation process, with a formal solicitation in early 2019 and awards coming in the third quarter. Miller said that multiple industry days will be conducted throughout the process, to get a sense of whether each capability set will involve single or multiple awards.

Miller also touted the prospect of long-term cost savings through commercial cloud.

"Moving to a commercial vendor gives us an opportunity, not to only measure use and capabilities but the amount of investment that it drives," Miller said, along with real-time upgrades, refreshes and access to new commercial tools as they become available.

DISA was initially flying solo on the procurement. But Miller said that the DEOS program office will "focus on the more critical integration piece and start planning migration services."

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said that GSA welcomed the opportunity to participate because it gives "GSA a baseline to scale up this type of solution across the federal government in the future."

DOD CIO Dana Deasy noted that vendors, trade groups and media have been "fixated" on the $10 billion warfighter cloud procurement dubbed JEDI for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, which is the subject of multiple pre-award protests. JEDI and DEOS were both part of a bigger picture.

"After we kind of laid out this strategy, even though people have been fixated on one part of it, this fit-for-purpose cloud strategy is going to be very important, and it's going to be a big part going forward," he said. 

Deasy added that once in place, DEOS can be adopted across the Defense Department and throughout the services, some of which have their own contracts underway, and for all departments and agencies to migrate. When asked if there was concern of services buying in, Deasy said, "We don't have to mandate it, everybody wants this," adding that the only feedback he's gotten is how to speed up the process.

"We clearly believe that, as we look across our estate -- and we know our estate is quite large, it's 4 million plus end points -- that we need to refresh it on the more timely basis, we need to have better collaboration," Deasy said. "So the cloud, we believe, is the optimum way to manage our productivity suite going forward."