Inside the Reporter's Notebook: Acquisition, IT trends; Is cybersecurity awareness month still necessary?

Friday - 10/18/2013, 5:37pm EDT

"Inside the Reporter's Notebook," is a biweekly dispatch of news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is not a column nor commentary. It's news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.

As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions, and, of course, news to me at

T he data deluge from the latest IT and acquisition forecast from the TechAmerica Foundation is overwhelming to say the least.

Having gotten a copy of the presentations from Wednesday and Thursday, there are several interesting data points worth highlighting. And by no means is this a complete picture of all the interesting government intelligence that came from a year's worth of interviews and analysis.

Let's start with the Defense Department.

My three takeaways:

    #1 The Joint Information Exchange has a hard road to conquer to get widespread buy-in from all military services and agencies. The goal of the JIE is to improve the sharing of information and technology capabilities and to lower the costs for these "commodity" functions across DoD. But the Navy and Marines continue to reel from the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) experience and need questions answered around governance and command and control before fully accepting the JIE. The presentation from the 49th Vision Conference stated, "JIE has wholesome objectives, but needs to be well defined from the strategic level down to the tactical warfighter."

    #2 DoD's thirst for cloud services may not be as strong as initially thought. The Pentagon must take some initial steps before cloud really can take hold, including data center consolidation and virtualization. The Defense Information Systems Agency is leading the data center consolidation effort by acting as the host of a relatively few mega-data centers. TechAmerica Foundation found DoD users are posing more questions about cloud computing than anything else, meaning they are not comfortable with the concept of where their data lives and how it will be protected and accessed.

    #3 IT programs will continue to get smaller. There will be more enterprise buying, and budget cuts from sequestration and the drawdown from Afghanistan will mean more competition for fewer contracting opportunities in the coming years. Solicitations and awards will continue to see delays and lowest-price, technically acceptable is growing as a popular way to buy certain types of services.

One of the best parts of TechAmerica Foundation's forecast is solid information on upcoming procurements. Among the ones they labeled as most likely from DoD are:

  • DISA is expected to release the request for proposals for its $427 million Enterprise Storage Services II contract in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014.

  • The Army plans on issuing the RFP for its IT Enterprise Services 3 contract in the second quarter of 2014 and it could be worth $25 billion over nine years.

  • The Navy is scheduled to release a RFP for ashore and afloat networks and information engineering services in the second quarter of 2014 that could be worth $100 million.

  • The Air Force is preparing a $525 million contract for communications and technical support services in the first quarter of this year.

Now, moving to the civilian side of the government, the focus is mainly on the General Services Administration and other potential IT acquisitions.

My four takeaways:

    #1 LPTA is not just a concept that DoD is using. Civilian agencies are seeing it as "more defensible" from bid protests as well as "safe, understandable and budget friendly." There is some concern, however, about quality of service and a lack of innovation.

    #2 Incumbent contractors are no longer a shoe-in for keeping their contract. The TechAmerica Foundation's research shows over the last 30 months there have been as many incumbent contracts worth more than $350 million lost to a single competitor as there has been in the nine years prior to that period. Two prime examples of incumbent losses are DoD's Global Information Grid contract that went to Lockheed Martin and away from SAIC, and the Energy Department's $484 million award to ActioNet for its OCIO IT support services contract from Energy Enterprise Solutions LLC.

    #3 The threshold requiring a business case for new multiple award contracts drops to $50 million over the life of the contract in January. Currently, OMB set a threshold of $100 million. Agencies must submit their proposals to OMB and receive feedback from the rest of the government as a way to reduce the number of MACs. TechAmerica Foundation says two competing forces are at work. The first is the business case review process has little or no teeth from OMB. But, secondly, agencies are starting to recognize the expense to maintain an agency-specific MAC may not be worth it any longer.