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Army Communications Modernization: Re-set, Re-vamp, Re-Envision

The Department of the Army is currently witnessing a major transformation of its communication strategies aimed at providing back-end support to the Warfighter. Due to the larger, overarching strategy of providing seamless communications integration, operational environment synthesis, and expeditionary functionality (a strategy driven in great part by the LandWarNet effort, Army's portion of the Global Information Grid or GIG), many upcoming communications opportunities in Army will require a broader and more holistic approach to the service's ultimate end-goals.

Beyond the following opportunities, the Army, by its own admission, is experiencing serious deficiencies in the following areas:

  • Bandwidth sufficiency
  • Spectrum availability
  • Spectrum management services

Future opportunities will very likely address, either directly or in part, this capacity issue.

GovWin is tracking the following modernization efforts in Army communications:

COMMUNICATION AND TRANSMISSION SYSTEMS (CTS) (GovWin Opportunity Report ID#45253)

  • Status: Pre-RFP
  • Value: $30 billion (Government Estimate)
  • Summary: The Communication and Transmission Systems (CTS) requirement outlines the Project Manager, Defense Communications (PM DCATS) current and future needs for wireless communications equipment. This opportunity will include all transmission media (including hardware/software, satellite broadband, and power infrastructure) along with necessary ancillary technical support services. Any chosen solutions should ensure interoperability with the Global Information Grid (GIG).
  • COMMON HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE III (CHS III) (GovWin Opportunity Report ID#48066)

  • Status: Pre-RFP
  • Value: $1.75 billion (GovWin Estimate)
  • Summary: The Common Hardware and Software III (CHS-3) requirement is defined as the Army's common need for varying types of communications and electronic equipment and attendant services, including cables, hardware, software, and parts, maintenance, and logistics. Originally intended as a "clearinghouse" of sorts for the latest commercial equipment, CHS-3 has evolved into a sophisticated program that provides end-to-end parts, engineering, testing, repair, and logistics management, on one contract. CHS-3 will provide the Army with the goods and services necessary to meet obsolescence and innovation challenges.
  • NETWORK SCIENCE COLLABORATIVE TECHNOLOGY ALLIANCE (CTA) (GovWin Opportunity Report ID#49639)

  • Status: Pre-RFP
  • Value: $252 million (GovWin Estimate)
  • Summary: The Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) is Army's answer to a greater need for research and technology applications related to human factors within systems, and it will focus on four areas: Social Cognitive Networks Research, Information Networks Research, Communication Networks Research, and an Integration center that will bring the analyses of these divisions together. CTA will play a role in the development of state-of-the-art knowledge management, and will shape a defined space for innovation in the communications realm by funding research related to optimal communications within a heterogeneous network of users (such as personnel, UAV's, UAG's, and robotics). Such information could play a key role in further advances to the Global Information Grid (GIG).
  • ARMY LANDWARNET NETOPS ARCHITECTURE (LNA) (GovWin Opportunity Report ID#47889)

  • Status: Pre-RFP
  • Value: TBD
  • Summary: Currently, the LandWarNet Netops Archictecture (LNA) communiqué to industry is an informational Special Notice, which alerts offerors to likely upcoming NetOps Capability Descriptions (NCD's) for procurements in the near future. LNA is an opportunity that supports the technology and communications architecture of LandWarNet in the following six ways: IP Transport Management, Computing Platform Management, Security Management, Enterprise Support, Enterprise Services & Application Management, and NetOps Modeling and Simulation. These six areas will include products and services related to Modularity/Joint Integration and IT Services Consolidation. The LNA is the Army's reprise to the Army Enterprise Netops Integrated Architecture (AENIA); as such, it will incorporate many of the same policy guidance policies as AENIA (such as the CIO/G-6 AENIA Policy Letter), but with a stronger focus on seamless integration and back-end utilities for the Warfighter.
  • Obama on Economic Recovery: $50 billion to Jumpstart the Economy

    Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) economic program spans ten categories. While it is unclear direct State IT investments that will stem from his economic proposals, the following areas may have technology implications for the states.

    • Provide $50 billion to Jumpstart the Economy and Prevent 1 Million Americans from Losing Their Jobs: This relief would include a $25 billion State Growth Fund to prevent state and local cuts in health, education, housing, and heating assistance or counterproductive increases in property taxes, tolls or fees. The Obama-Biden relief plan will also include $25 billion in a Jobs and Growth Fund to prevent cutbacks in road and bridge maintenance and fund school re­pair - all to save more than 1 million jobs in danger of being cut.
    • Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes. Obama will ensure that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return. Experts estimate that the Obama-Biden proposal will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees. A change like this to the Tax system may involve system enhancements and system overhauls to the State's Tax IT Systems.
    • End Tax Breaks for Companies that Send Jobs Overseas: Obama believes that companies should not get billions of dollars in tax deductions for moving their operations overseas. Obama will also fight to ensure that public contracts are awarded to companies that are committed to American workers.
    • Invest in our Next Generation Innovators and Job Creators: Obama will create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to identify and invest in the most compelling advanced manufacturing strategies. The Fund will have a peer-review selection and award process based on the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund, a state-level initiative that has awarded over $125 million to Michigan businesses with the most innovative proposals to create new products and new jobs in the state.
    • Invest In A Clean Energy Economy And Create 5 Million New "Green" Jobs: Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America's highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.
    • Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Obama believes we can get broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.
    • Crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders. Obama will make sure homebuyers have honest and complete information about their mortgage options, and they will give a tax credit to all middle-class homeowners.
    • Ensure More Accountability in the Subprime Mortgage Industry: Obama has been closely monitoring the subprime mortgage situation for years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama's STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity. 38% of Governors in the 2008 State of the State speeches focused on Community Development prgorams as prorities of their states. General theme centered around mortgage loan crisis. Governors in 9 states urged legislators to pass laws to protect homeowners from foreclosures and mortgage loan scams.
    • Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama and Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.
    • Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Obama will create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama and Biden will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.

    See Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's (IL) position on this issue below. This concludes GovWin's weekly coverage of the candidates via this blog. Click here to see all of our Presidential election commentary.

    McCain on Economic Recovery: IT Opportunities Embedded in Job Training and Health Care Reform

    The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows U.S. 3rd quarter economic growth at -0.3%. Given the fact that official figures in this area are generally revised down at a later date, we can be sure that the economy saw a real contraction last quarter. So, whoever wins the White House next Tuesday will have economic recovery as priority #1.

    The economic agenda of any Presidential candidate will be embedded in several areas of his or her platform. This part of the agenda rarely related directly back to state and local government IT. However, some key places where the agenda will have impact at these levels are: infrastructure investment, social services and unemployment insurance, education/job training, and university-based research.

    Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) economic program spans eight categories. The most likely places from which IT opportunities might evolve at the state and local levels are in job training and health care, which are woven into several areas of the McCain plan.

    • Workplace Flexibility– "Providing workers with more choice in job training assistance..." States are the primary orchestrators of workforce development programs. These state agencies will have to verify the eligible private- and public-sector training options and track the participation and progress of workers moving through the system. Payment systems will have to issue and track disbursements to these service providers while ensuring that there is no waste, fraud, or abuse of the benefits by the service provider or the worker.
    • Relief for Families – "John McCain believes we should institute a summer (federal) gas tax holiday." States--generally the departments of agriculture--collect taxes at the pump. Systems that estimate and track collections would have to be modified to exempt the federal tax during the appointed times.
    • Government Reform – While Sen. McCain mentions Medicare and Social Security, he doesn't indicate any actions with particular impact on state or local governments. But, when you hear "entitlement reform," you can be sure there will be changes in Medicaid, SCHIP, and other mean-tested programs administered at the state and local levels.
    • Supporting Small Businesses – One of the centerpieces of this platform is controlling health care costs. GovWin has previously looked at this part of McCain's agenda.
    • Cheap, Clean, Secure Energy for America – "John McCain will make greening the federal government a priority of his administration." By bringing the market-shifting weight of federal purchasing to bear in this area, McCain would greatly expand the availability of facilities-related and other green technologies for purchase by state and local governments--possible from existing federal schedules, such as Schedule 70.
    • Better Healthcare – GovWin has previously looked at this part of McCain's agenda.
    • Taxes: Simpler, Fair, Pro-Growth and Competitive – No discernable implications for state and local IT.
    • Trade – "John McCain will overhaul unemployment insurance and make it a program for retraining, relocating and assisting workers who have lost a job." This reinforces his priorities under "Workplace Flexibility" and "Government Reform" above. As detailed in GovWin's report, State & Local Social Services IT Market, 2008-2013, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 was the last attempt at modernization in this area and progress has been spotty at best. Much more can be done in terms of flexible program design, online services for employers and job seekers, and integration with other family-oriented social services programs.

    See Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's (IL) position on this issue above. Click here to see all of GovWin's Presidential election commentary.

    Treasury Breaks in TARP Legislation with $125 Billion in Stock Buys

    The financial bailout has been a frequent topic of discussion over the past few weeks, but now the Treasury has turned from talk to action by spending $125 billion on stock purchases with nine financial institutions. Yesterday the Treasury released its first transaction report, mandated by the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation, that requires the Department to report every transaction within 7 days. And the winners are...

  • Bank of America: $15 billion
  • Bank of New York Mellon: $3 billion
  • Citigroup Inc.: $25 billion
  • Goldman Sachs: $10 billion
  • JP Morgan Chase: $25 billion
  • Morgan Stanley: $10 billion
  • State Street Corp.: $2 billion
  • Wells Fargo: $25 billion
  • Merrill Lynch: $10 billion
  • Treasury's goal is to distribute another $125 billion by the end of the year to help grease the lending wheels at participating financial institutions. Since the checkbook is already out, other industries such as the insurance and auto industries are also waiting with bated breath to see if they will receive any part of the $700 billion.

    What will be interesting for contractors is whether these institutions beef up their technology and personnel requirements considering the new level of reporting and compliance they will be required to do. For insight into the implications of TARP on the federal contracting community, read GovWin's Industry Insight report, Financial Crisis Legislation: Insight and Implications for Federal Government Contractors.

    Washington Seeks a Contractor for their Medicaid Transformation Grant

    A majority of the 2006 Medicaid Transformation Grant projects are underway, but there are still some states with contracting opportunities coming down the pipeline.

    Washington was awarded federal seed money to support Medicaid program integrity efforts and recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP), on October 24, 2008, seeking vendor assistance. Prior a Request for Information (RFI) was released in February 2008. Additional details on the current RFP are as follows:

    Purpose- The state of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has a requirement for an enhanced Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Detection System (FADS) and program integrity efforts.

    Scope of Work- Requirements include implementing a second generation fraud and abuse detection system; develop and support new ways of detecting and preventing fraud; algorithms; audit subsystem; model capabilities; predicative modeling capabilities; provide subject matter expertise; geo-mapping capabilities; intuitive reporting tools; and a case tracking system. Please refer to the RFP for additional details.

    Timeline- An optional letter of intent and vendor questions are due by October 31, 2008. Proposals are due by November 25, 2008. Contract execution is tentatively anticipated for January 16, 2009.

    Estimated Value- DSHS was awarded a $5.9 million Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicaid Transformation Grant. The specific percentage of the grant that will be utilized for a contract award is unknown at this time.

    For additional information on this project please see GovWin Opportunity # 46726.

    The IRS’ Web Consolidation Effort

    Between 2001 and 2004, Accenture and IBM won Task Orders to provide maintenance and operations support for the IRS' Web Portals Program through their TIPSS-2 contracts. The combined value of the Task Orders awarded to Accenture and IBM was approximately $105M, according to GovWin's Task Order Database.

    This program has been highly anticipated by the vendor community since an RFI for this program was released in March, 2005. Since that time, this acquisition has been in limbo and the IRS was unable to provide any substantial updates to this program. Unexpectedly, the IRS made some significant decisions on this program and publicized this information through a series of notices on FBO during October.

    The Internal Revenue Service released Special Notices on October 21, 2008 notifying vendors of bridge contracts being awarded to Accenture and IBM for the operations and management of the IRS' web portals. Both bridge contracts are for a period of one base year with two one-year option periods. The purpose of the bridge contracts is to provide time for the IRS to determine the acquisition strategy for their web portals requirements. Currently Accenture is providing hosting, operations, and maintenance support for the Public User Portal (PUP) while IBM is providing support for the Employee User Portal (EUP), and the Registered User Portal (RUP).

    At this time, the IRS is performing a Portal Strategic Analysis that will help them determine a competitive procurement strategy for the portal requirements. GovWin is currently tracking two web portal requirements that are currently having their acquisition strategy developed.

    • Public User Portal (PUP) ( IRS.gov) Management Services - GovWin Opportunity 51442
    • Employee User Portal (EUP) and Registered User Portal (RUP) Management Services - GovWin Opportunity 51439

    For historical information on the IRS' Web Consolidation Project please visit GovWin opportunity 17140.

    New York State DCJS awards one of two automated identification projects

    L-1 Identity Solutions, Inc. has announced that it has won a contract from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for Civil Fingerprinting Services. The contract, to be valued around $250 million, is expected to be for five years with a 2 year option. L-1 will provide the state with the infrastructure and software necessary to compile fingerprinting, background checks, and other data required for state employee applications and state licenses. Agencies involved in this project include the Office of Children and Family Services, Department of Health, Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of State.

    During 2007, DCJS processed approximately 730,000 criminal fingerprint transactions and 550,000 civil transactions. Hard copy fingerprint cards were processed in approximately 14 hours, much longer than the state wanted. The Department of Health topped the list of highest fingerprint application volume for 2007 with 84,082 applicants. The Department of Motor Vehicles was the lowest with 12,285.

    This project is being implemented alongside the Division of Criminal Justice Services Statewide Automated Biometric Identification System (SABIS). The SABIS project is currently in a source selection phase as the state evaluates RFP responses, which were due in August.

    Rural Development Grants Announced

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development's latest round of grants and loans through the Learning and Telemedicine program strives to increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural residents through the implementation of telemedicine.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded six recipients in five states $15 million in loans and grants for telemedicine on Thursday, October 23, 2008. The grants were awarded to rural hospitals and other organizations through the department's Rural Development Office's Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. The program was created to meet the educational and health care needs of rural areas through advanced telecommunications technology. The funds will assist the rural hospitals and medical centers in upgrades to health care delivery services to improve the quality of rural life.

    The hospitals and health systems that received the grants and loans are:

    • DuBois Regional Medical Center, DuBois, Pa.
    • Eastern Maine Healthcare System, Brewer, Maine
    • Ellsworth Municipal Hospital, Iowa Falls, Iowa
    • Healthsource of Ohio, Milford, Ohio
    • Kossuth Regional Health Center, Algona, Iowa
    • Speare Memorial Hospital, Plymouth, N.H.
    • Unicom, a telecommunications services provider in Alaska

    Forty-seven other telemedicine grants were awarded last month. Eastern Maine Healthcare System used their $800,000 loan to expand its Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system by purchasing medical carts, laptop computers, and software. Kossuth Regional Health Center in Algona, Iowa, used their $537,532 loan to implement an EMR filing system using high-speed telecommunications lines. Further information on rural programs is available at the USDA Rural Development's website.

    Texas Gov. Perry "Uses Hatchet" on Data Transfer to IBM: Concern Surrounding Outsourcing Rises

    As a result of IBM's failure to back up data for over 20 state agencies, Texas Governor Rick Perry has issued a freeze on the transfer of all state documents to the IBM data management program. His office will conduct an assessment of the situation before work with IBM will resume. Brian Rawson (member login required), Chief Information Office (CIO) of the Department of Information Resources (DIR) for the State of Texas (member login required), stated that IBM has not been meeting expectations and they have been fined $900,000 for failure to comply with the back-up terms of the contract.

    In 2006, IBM began providing Texas with Data Center Management and Consolidation Services (member login required). The seven-year $863 million contract, designed to save money and provide better services to citizens and government agencies, put IBM in charge of managing operations for and overseeing the consolidation of 31 data centers. 27 agencies are currently at various stages of the transition. Despite warnings from several government agency officials that documents were not being backed up properly, the project progressed without any major glitches until this past July.

    A massive computer crash caused the Tyler Medicaid fraud division to lose approximately 50% of its files, triggering Governor Perry's freeze and investigation. 81 criminal cases have been lost due to this crash. IBM hired specialists to recover the data, but results have been shaky – recovery estimates range from 50% to 80%. Over 10 other agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Health and Human Services Commission, have reported various levels of concern with IBM's services, ranging from network breakdowns to server back-up issues.

    IBM has stated that they will continue to work closely with Mr. Rawson to resolve the problem. They admit that mistakes have been made in regards to back-up procedures and they are taking steps to ensure that the problem does not happen again.

    This is not the first time Texas has encountered serious problems with outsourcing. The Health and Human Services Commission actually ended a contract with the Texas ACCESS Alliance (TAA), a consortium of vendors led by Accenture, in early 2007. TAA ran the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS), (member login required) a browser-based application used to determine eligibility for Food Stamps. TAA had similar problems to those IBM is now experiencing, and eventually, the state determined that it was in the best interest of the citizens to end the contract with Accenture.

    So what do these obstacles mean to government officials considering outsourcing as a solution to major IT projects? Well, for starters, it reiterates existing concerns regarding security. Large government agencies handle large amounts of very sensitive data. An agency needs to know right off the bat that a contractor will place the same importance on security that the agency itself would if they were managing the project.

    These debacles also make officials question whether it really is more efficient to outsource a project. Can the contractor really execute this project for less than us? Or are they simply cutting corners that shouldn't be cut? Outsourcing that requires close interaction or even divides the work between the contractor and the agency can be difficult to orchestrate. However, data center management is supposed to be one of the "easy" outsourcing projects. Practically 100% of the work is managed by the contractor – it is a "forget-about-it" solution that can be very attractive to government officials for time-consuming projects. However, if agencies suddenly feel the need to check up on the contractor to ensure that all the requirements are met and no corners are cut, one of the main attractions to the solution is eliminated. Even with simple outsourcing, officials might wonder if it would actually be easier to manage the project in-house.

    Situations like the one in which Texas currently finds itself mean that contractors will need to increase performance measurement mechanisms. Risk management strategies could become an even more critical criteria in the evaluation of proposals. Vendors will need to be able to ensure that they will not make the mistakes made by IBM.

    Air Force Announces First Details of New Nuclear Command

    As GovWin previously blogged about, the Air Force's plans to stand up a cyber command have given way in favor of the creation of a nuclear focused major command, details of which were handed down late last week by the Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, according to the American Forces Press Service.

    The new command will be called Global Strike Command. Included in the command will be the following:

    • The 8th Air Force, which is comprised of the Air Force's B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers and is currently under the Air Combat Command. The 8th Air Force is headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; and
    • The 20th Air Force, which operates and maintains the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missiles. The 20th Air Force is headquartered at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

    The command will also receive an additional squadron of B-52s that will be mandated by congress.

    Nuclear-capable aircraft located in Europe will not be part of the Global Strike Command

    At the time of the announcement, no location was given for the command's headquarters, nor was it revealed who will lead the command. It was indicated though that a three-star general will head the command and it is planned to be operational by September.

    The reorganization of the Air Force's nuclear program is a direct result of an incident that took place in August, 2007 when an Air Force bomber flew from Barksdale Air Force base to Minot Air Force base carrying six missiles with nuclear warheads attached to the wings. Later that same year, it was discovered that in 2006 top-secret nuclear related material had been sold to Taiwan. The incidents resulted in the forced resignations of both the then Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynn, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Mosley.

    GovWin's members can read about Air Force's other commands in GovWin's Air Force Agency Profile.

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