CIOs Claim IT Reporting to OMB is Not Useful for Their Own IT Management

In a recent GAO study, CIOs claimed that required IT reporting to OMB was not useful to their own IT management.  OMB uses the information reported by CIOs with the goal of improving the management, oversight, and transparency of the federal government’s IT as a whole. But according to CIOs, reporting efforts on their part are burdensome and not helpful in improving IT management.  

OMB requires agencies to routinely report on IT management in five areas:  

  • IT strategic planning  
  • Capital planning and investment management 
  • IT security 
  • Systems acquisitions, development, and integration  
  • E-government initiatives

OMB directs agency CIOs to respond to 36 IT management reporting requirements within the five IT management areas.  Reporting frequency varies from monthly, quarterly, annually and “as needed” depending on the requirement, with most requiring quarterly or annual reporting.  

Agencies report and transmit the information regarding their IT initiatives via the following methods/systems:  

  • CyberScope – for 5 requirements  
  • Integrated Data Collection – for 7 requirements  
  • MAX Portal – for 3 requirements  
  • Federal IT Dashboard  - for 6 requirements  
  • Agency Websites – for 9 requirements  
  • Data Point – for 1 requirement  
  • DHS Continuous Monitoring Dashboard – for 1 requirement   
  • Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative Program Management Portal – for 1 requirement       
  • Meetings with OMB Officials – for 2 requirements  
  • E-mail to OMB – for additional requirements as needed

CIOs reported that addressing the reporting requirements did not always clearly support departmental priorities and took a significant level of effort to implement.  Agencies reported spending approximately $150M to $308M annually to report to OMB, in part due to the frequency, formatting, duplicative elements and differing data collection systems in use. 

CIOs identified the following reporting as most useful in managing IT:  

  • Information Resources Management strategic plan  
  • Enterprise roadmap  
  • Exhibit 53  
  • IT investment performance updates

Although OMB has taken steps to streamline some IT reporting requirements, the efforts do not address additional challenges, such as the use of multiple online tools to report information. If OMB addressed the IT reporting issues identified by CIOs they could make the reporting effort and information gained a more useful tool for IT management at the agency level.  GAO recommends that OMB collaborate with CIOs to address proposed reporting improvements and challenges and ensure a common understanding of priority IT reforms.  


Big Data Programs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Department of Defense is investing big in goods and services related to big data. This investment, however, is not spread evenly across the department. It exists instead in certain agencies where the spending is deep and related to a variety of other programs. One of these agencies is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, as it is commonly known. DARPA does research and assessments related to the applicability of cutting edge technologies to U.S. national security, including unmanned systems, robotics, cyber security, mobility, networking and computing technologies, and others.

Underlying the research and development work at DARPA are significant investments in advanced algorithms, analytics, and data fusion that illustrate the importance of “big data” to the efficient use of next generation systems and weapons platforms. Put differently, more and more of DoD’s weapons and communications systems, as well as the platforms that carry them, are becoming extremely complex. They are now so complex, in fact, that big data analytics and algorithms are necessary for them to function properly. Big data analytics and algorithms are thus a foundational technology without which an increasing number of advanced DoD weapons systems and platforms would not function.

Knowing this makes a big difference when it comes to understanding where business opportunity can be found at the DoD. Big data is such a complex subject, and its uses are so varied, that it is rare if an acquisition calls explicitly for a specific solution by name or the term “big data.” This makes selling big data solutions and services to defense customers tricky.

Getting back to DARPA, the fact is that big data is in use across the agency. It appears primarily in R&D work related to software development, algorithm design, and data fusion efforts. The two tables below identify programs that have big data requirements related to them. Table 1 lists DARPA programs in which big data goods or services are the primary requirement. Table 2 shows DARPA programs in which big data requirements are but one of many different pieces of work. These programs have been drawn from the DARPA Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Request for FY 2016.

As we can see in Table 1, spending rises from approximately $97 million in FY 2014, to the $164 million that DARPA forecasts in FY 2016. This represents a projected 69% increase over the course of three fiscal years.

Turning to the list of programs that includes both big data specific projects and those with a big data component (the gold lines in Table 2 below), we can see that the trend is the same – spending at DARPA on big data related R&D is on the rise. The increase is a more modest 21% from FY 2014 to FY 2016, but this is still a positive return in an overall declining DoD technology market.

Summing up, the DoD’s spending on big data, particularly on R&D, is rising. Because money is flowing to R&D efforts, the fact that the work is related to big data may be hidden in general project descriptions. The best thing to do when searching for big data related work is to seek out complexity. Where agencies like DARPA are conducting R&D work on complex systems, the integration of massive volumes of sensor data, the development of advanced algorithms for controlling unmanned systems, and/or fusing large data sets into common pictures, that is where you’ll find big data related spending.


Takeaways from the New Army Cloud Computing Strategy

The Army Office of the Chief Information Officer/G-6 recently released its enterprise cloud computing strategy outlining the service’s concept for using cloud computing in the years ahead. The Army Cloud Computing Strategy (ACCS) reveals that the service remains committed to several basic steps that will enable it to deliver cloud-based capabilities across the enterprise.  These steps include:

  • Continuing to enhance the throughput capacity of its networks by implementing multi-protocol label switching routers.
  • Selecting applications that will either be killed or selected for migration to a cloud-based environment.
  • Utilizing data center services provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency to the furthest extent possible.
  • Expanding the development and deployment of cloud-based technologies for disconnected and tactical environments.
  • Ruthlessly standardizing IT hardware on common standards that comply with the Army’s various Common Operating Environments.
  • Implementing the governance processes and procedures necessary for selecting cloud services appropriate to the mission requirement being fulfilled.

In addition to formalizing the foundational aspects for Army’s adoption of cloud, the ACCS makes several things clear about the Army’s intended use of cloud that have implications for the acquisition of those services in the future.

First, cloud computing adoption in the Army will be overseen by the Army Application Migration Business Office – Product Director Enterprise Computing at the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems. PD EC has been authorized to assist commands with the system and procurement planning necessary for moving applications to the cloud, meaning that vendors should keep close tabs on what’s happening there. It is worth thinking about how Army customers will acquire cloud services with PD EC designated as the coordinating organization. The acquisition of enterprise technology services is PEO EIS’ primary function, strongly suggesting that PD EC will either put a multiple award contract in place to provide vendor migration and other cloud services, or it will use vehicles that are pending and/or are already in place across government.

In this context the follow-on to IT Enterprise Solutions – 2 Services looms large. Not only are PEO EIS vehicles mandated for Army customers, the PEO is also looking for ways to streamline its contract operations. Adding cloud to the services provided by ITES vendors would effectively kill two birds with one stone by using a vehicle already in the process of being competed for the work. This said, the award of ITES-3S is a long way off and protests are guaranteed to hold it up even longer. PD EC is therefore likely to use other procurement tools, like GSA’s IT 70, the Alliant contracts, and/or a blanket purchase agreement to fulfill cloud requirements.

The second revelation from the ACCS is the first detailed listing I’ve seen of the types of systems that the DoD classifies as having a “low” data impact level. These systems, including testing and development efforts, library systems, and public websites are classified at data impact level 2 and are the most likely to be moved to the cloud first. After these systems, the bar rises fairly quickly to data impact level 4 for many training systems, morale systems, and lodging systems.

In short, being certified at the data impact “low” level isn’t likely to generate vendors much cloud business at the DoD. It is much more preferable to be certified at the moderate and high levels of 4 and above.  That is where the real money will be.


March Line-Up: What Happened This Month - Deltek's Top 20 Federal Opportunities for FY 2015

A monthly rundown of activity for Deltek's Top 20 Federal Opportunities for FY 2015

Talk about March Madness! Three major solicitations were released in March and one was released on April 1, resulting in a total of nine solicitations featured in Deltek's annual top federal opportunities for FY 2015 being released so far this fiscal year.

Five solicitation released dates were pushed, two of which have reduced ceiling values.

Details of the month's updates to the Top 20 Federal Opportunities for FY 2015 follow, but here's the scorecard for March (as of April 1, 2015):

· Four solicitations released, with a combined ceiling value of $44B

· Solicitation release dates delayed for five opportunities

· Two opportunities' ceiling value reduced

Details are provided below, with each opportunity's original rank in the Top 20 Federal Opportunities for FY 2015 report and a link to additional details provided by GovWin IQ.

Solicitations Released to Date: Nine

#12 GNS: RFP released on April 1, proposals due May 18, 2015. Deltek estimates awards to be made in December 2015. –GovWin IQ# 118117

#2 RS3: The solicitation for the $37.4B procurement was released on March 25, with proposals due April 24. Up to 50 awards are expected in July. –GovWin IQ# 54023

#9 ESPC: The solicitation was released on March 23, with proposals due April 29, 2015. Deltek estimates awards to be made in January 2016. –GovWin IQ# 109872

#20 ICP Core: The solicitation was released March 13; proposals are due May 12, 2015. The government anticipates an award in October 2015. –GovWin IQ# 44732

#16 M&O of the National Security Campus Formerly Known as the Kansas City Plant: Solicitation released December 12; proposals due February 10, 2015. –GovWin IQ# 45419

#7 CFT: Solicitation released on December 2; proposals due February 3, 2015. –GovWin IQ# 66838

#3 T4NG: Solicitation released on November 19; proposals due December 19, 2014. – GovWin IQ# 104683

#11 KC10 CLS Engine Support: Solicitation released on November 7; proposals due January 28, 2015. –GovWin IQ# 88677

#19 KC10 CLS Airframe Support: Solicitation released on November 7; proposals due January 28, 2015. –GovWin IQ# 65969

Solicitation Dates Pushed to Later Date:

#10 HCaTS: The Draft RFPs were released for HCATS and HCATS SB on March 18, 2015. A Presolicitation Conference is planned for May 14, in Washington D.C. The final solicitations are expected on May 19, 2015. As a result, Deltek dates have been updated accordingly. For more information on the HCaTS unrestricted vehicle, please refer to Opportunity Report ID: 121350. For more information on the HCaTS SB vehicle, please refer to Opportunity Report ID: 121353. –GovWin IQ# 113795

#13 NIS/NS2020: On March 12, the government issued a special notice indicating that the contracting office is currently focusing on the$50B GSA Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) acquisition (GovWin IQ # 115836). Currently, no additional information is available regarding the NIS. As a result, Deltek has changed the solicitation date to July 2015. –GovWin IQ# 105781

#14 ESD II: Deltek analysts confirmed that no recent activity has taken place. Because the CO was unable to provide a solicitation timeframe; as such, Deltek changed the estimated solicitation date from April 2015 to May 2015. –GovWin IQ# 118153

Solicitation Dates Pushed to Later Date and Ceiling Values Reduced:

#4 DHITS: Per the industry day slides published in February, the draft RFP is anticipated to be released on or about September 15, 2015. The RFP is anticipated to be released on or about October 14, 2015. Awards are anticipated to be made on or about June 23, 2016. In the industry day slides, the ceiling value was published as $10B, which is a reduction from original estimated value of $20B. Deltek has updated the dates and values accordingly.–GovWin IQ# 53177

#5 ITES-3S: The ceiling value was reduced from $20 billion to $12 billion, per information provided at the AFCEA NOVA Army IT Day held on February 4, 2015. The Draft RFP is currently projected to be issued in Q3FY15. As a result, Deltek changed the estimated RFP release date to September 2015. Additionally, the Government has requested a 36 month extension on the ordering period for ITES-2S. –GovWin IQ# 64990

Updated Quick View of Deltek's Top 20 Federal Opportunities for FY 2015 *Government Estimate







GovWin IQ ID






$50 Billion





Mar 25, 2015 Released


$37 Billion





Nov 19, 2014 Released


$22.3 Billion*







$10 Billion*







$12 Billion*







$12.2 Billion





Dec 2, 2014 Released


$11.4 Billion*







$10 Billion





Mar 23, 2015 Released


$1.0 Billion







$5 Billion





Nov 7, 2014 Released


$4.4 Billion*





April 1, 2015 Released


$4.0 Billion*







$4.0 Billion*







$4.0 Billion







$2.5 Billion





Dec 12, 2014 Released


$9.0 Billion







$3.0 Billion*







$5.8 Billion*





Nov 7, 2014 Released


$2.3 Billion*





Mar 13, 2015 Released


$1.58 Billion*


The Other JIE: Engineering the Mission Partner Environment

All eyes are currently focused on the Department of Defense’s efforts to engineer a Joint Information Environment that will enable the secure sharing of information across the DoD enterprise, as well as the delivery of enterprise services by both the Defense Information Systems Agency and, eventually, commercial cloud partners.  There is another network integration effort going at DISA, however, which receives significantly less attention, yet its importance to the future of U.S. national security is every bit as critical.  That effort is the transformation of the Multinational Information Sharing portfolio of programs into a new Mission Partner Environment.

The current MNIS portfolio consists of four capabilities:

  • The Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), which includes the Common Mission Network Transport (CMNT) backbone that enables the management of federated networks and provides common transport for encrypted traffic between mission partners.
  • The Pegasus System, which interconnects the National Command and Control systems of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States using cross domain solutions.
  • The Combined Federated Battle Laboratory Network (CFBLNet), which provides a controlled Research, Development, Trials, and Assessment coalition information sharing sandbox for evaluating new technologies and developing new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).
  • The Unclassified Information Sharing Service (UISS) All Partners Access (APAN) Network, which provides information sharing capabilities to mission partners, U.S. Combatant Commands, U.S. Government agencies, host nations, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and coalition partners.

Support services for these pieces of the MNIS are currently provided under a variety of contracts held by Harris (Cross Domain Solutions), CACI (Cross Domain Solutions), Raytheon (Engineering Support), Ingenium (Program Support), SAIC (Program Support), ViaSat (Cryptographic HW), Information Analysis (Connection Approval Process), and MCP Computer Products (DNS Management).

When engineering work is complete, the component parts of the MNIS will be merged into a single Mission Partner Environment that provides interoperable email, chat, video conferencing, VoIP, and other collaboration capabilities.  The MPE will also connect to the Joint Information Environment, providing access to data located throughout the Defense enterprise.

The projected Research, Development, Testing, and Enhancement (RDT&E) budget for work related to the MNIS totals $31.1 million over five years (FY 2015-2020), averaging approximately $6.2 million per year.

One piece of the puzzle not mentioned so far is the U.S. Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation System – Extended (US BICES-X), which will also be part of the new MPE.  Budget data for US BICES-X was classified for FY 2015, so no numbers can be provided for it here.  Investigating BICES-X for potential future business opportunity should be on industry’s radar, however, as there may be requirements at Hill Air Force Base for cryptographic HW, engineering a VTC network, and integrating Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance components from the Distributed Common Ground System and Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise.  Requirements for program office support and technical integration support may also be available, if these haven’t been awarded already.

Lastly, commercial cloud providers take note.  DISA intends to host the UISS-APAN system in a commercial cloud environment in FY 2016.  UISS-APAN is currently hosted in DISA’s Enterprise Service Center, part of its Defense Enterprise Computing Center, in Montgomery, Alabama.  Supporting vendors include Carahsoft, Exalt Integrated Technologies, Alvarez & Associates, and DLT Solutions, which provide Software and Documentation Localization licenses, DocAve software, Google Maps, and Google Translation software and support, respectively.  DISA intends to migrate UISS-APAN to a vendor-hosted Infrastructure-as-a-Service environment, meaning that if the procurement appears soon, there are but a few competitors certified by the DoD to provide hosting services.


FY 2016 Budget Analysis Points to Increase in Contractor-Addressable Federal Spending

Deltek's new report, FY 2016 Federal Budget Request:  Challenges and Opportunities, indicates growth in federal contractor-addressable spending from $638 billion in FY 2015 to $660 billion in FY 2016.  

The FY 2016 $1.2 trillion discretionary budget request provides new, higher discretionary caps designed to replace sequestration limits set in the Budget Control Act. If passed as-is this budget proposal would offer some reversal of previous spending restrictions and infuse additional funds for both defense and civilian agencies.  As a result, the budget reflects FY 2015-2016 increases for nearly every major agency.

The budget request reintroduces the administration’s strategic priorities which include infrastructure, national defense, education, research and development, homeland security, public health (including veteran care), cybersecurity and cross-government customer services.

The largest projected increase is seen in the area of equipment with a planned increase of 24% from FY 2015 to FY 2016, from $32B to $49B for contractor-addressable spending.  The equipment category encompasses purchases of durable assets that normally may be expected to have a period of service of a year or more after being put into use such as transportation equipment; machinery; construction equipment; furniture and fixtures; tools and implements, instruments and apparatus; and information technology hardware.  This category excludes aerospace and defense equipment.

The aerospace and defense (A&D) market segment is expected to grow 5.8% over FY 2015 to $137B in contractor-addressable spending in FY 2016.  The A&D segment includes full-scale development, production, and modifications of durable assets related to the aerospace and defense industries.  The slight growth of A&D forecast for FY 2016 in the Navy and Air Force reflects a shift in U.S. defense strategy away from U.S. ground forces and toward naval and air power.  Growth among civilian agencies is highest at Homeland Security/CBP, Justice/FBI, Commerce/NOAA, and NASA.

Deltek’s analysis shows a nearly 3% increase from FY 2015 to FY 2016 in the contractor addressable portion of the federal information technology budget, growing from $101B to $104B.  The IT budget shows a continued shift of dollars from Development, Modernization, and Enhancement (DME) to Operations & Maintenance (O&M).  The budget also proposes $450M for initiatives such as Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goals (e.g. shared services, strategic sourcing), funding for U.S. Digital Service teams at 25 agencies, and PortfolioStat.  It also includes $14B for cybersecurity, including Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) and CyberStat program expansion. 

Although intact passage of the FY 2016 budget request is unlikely, it gives a glimpse at administrative and agency priorities which will remain in place even if requested funding levels are not attained during the appropriations process.  Click here for more information on Deltek’s FY 2016 Federal Budget Request:  Challenges and Opportunities report.


DISA FY 2016 IT Budget Snapshot

Last week’s post took a look at Defense Working Capital Fund dollars that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) anticipates Defense customers will spend with it in Fiscal Year 2016. This week’s post examines the formal portions of the information technology budget that DISA anticipates it will have in FY 2016, including funding it has requested for operations and maintenance, procurement, and research, development, modernization, and enhancement. The programs on which DISA forecasts spending the most under each category in FY 2016 will also be examined.

For its total IT budget in FY 2016, DISA has requested $3 billion.  This funding breaks out as follows:

Not surprisingly, the highest number of forecast dollars can be found in DISA’s Revolving and Management Funds account.  This account is where Defense Working Capital Fund spending is located, which is why it was the focus of last week’s post.  This week’s focus is on spending in the other three categories, beginning with operations and maintenance.

Breaking down O&M, we can see that not all of the programs receiving O&M funding are “programs,” per se. The White House Communications Agency (WHCA), for example, is part of the DISA organization.  The Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) is where much work related to Joint Information Environment is taking place, primarily, but not exclusively, under the GIG Services Management –Operations (GSM-O) and GIG Services Management – Engineering, Transition, and Implementation (GSM-ETI) contracts.  Spending on DoD mobility programs comes in at the far right of the spectrum, with $23 million in spending anticipated.

Moving to procurement, we see that new dollars for tech refreshment and other acquisitions are going into the DISN, SATCOM, and other transport-network related programs.  DISN investments focus primarily on the procurement of network switching (MPLS) and optical network equipment related to engineering the JIE.

DISA anticipates spending $0 on DoD mobility procurement in FY 2016.

This brings us to RDT&E funding, of which DISA has requested very little. There are no surprises here. The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) receives most of the funding in this category. Some funding here goes to the DoD Mobility program for “tech insertion and the deployment of two Device Mobile Classified Capability (DMCC) gateways OCONUS which will include Top Secret (TS) and Secret capabilities in the Pacific and Southwest Asia.” Funding for the DISN will focus on the purchasing and testing of “optical and IP routers, switches, and Communications Security equipment” related to the upgrading of DISA’s optical network.

In conclusion, this snapshot of the FY 2016 DISA budget shows that engineering the DISN to provide the backbone for the Joint Information Environment will remain DISA’s highest priority in FY 2016, with funding spread out in all categories of IT spending – O&M, Procurement, and RDT&E.  DISA’s FY 2016 spending will remain heavy on communications and network equipment, with DISA personnel and service contractors already in place providing the support required to install and configure the equipment for the agency.


A Look at DISA’s FY 2016 Information Technology Budget

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is playing an increasingly important role in Defense IT, a role that is expected to grow with maturation of the Joint Information Environment (JIE).  Funding for DISA’s programs garners a lot of attention, therefore, as vendors seek to understand where contract dollars in the agency’s IT budget may be going and which Defense organizations are buying DISA’s services.  Today’s post takes a look at the broad outlines of DISA’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year and breaks down some salient points vendors need to know.

DISA’s IT Budget in Context

Where does DISA’s IT budget fit into the broader Department of Defense IT budget request for FY 2016?  The chart below shows the Defense-Wide IT budget for fiscal years 2014 through 2016 alongside DISA’s IT budget for those same years.

As a reminder, the big drop in DISA’s FY 2015 IT budget was caused by a change in the way the DoD CIO calculates the Defense Working Capital Fund.  For FY 2015, funding is now identified in the ‘senders’ accounts (i.e., Defense customers) rather than the investment owner's (i.e., DISA’s) account. 

The FY 2015 calculation change aside, DISA’s proposed IT budget for FY 2016 shows a continuing decline despite the fact that most of the DoD is relying more on the agency for its services.  Overall, DISA’s IT budget is expected to decline from an estimated $3.19B in FY 2015 to $3B in FY 2016, a drop of $190M, or just under 6%.

New Orders from Defense Customers – Computing Services

Moving to the specific services that DISA provides, the chart below shows the orders for DISA’s computing services that Defense customers have placed (or are expected to place, as the case may be) from FY 2014 to FY 2016.

The computing services DISA supplies include Core Data Center services, DoD Enterprise Email, DoD Enterprise Portal Service, GIG Content Delivery Service, and the agency’s milCloud infrastructure service.  The data for these services reveals a few interesting trends.

First, both the Army and Air Force continue to use DISA-provided computing services more than the Navy.  DISA, however, expects orders from Air Force customers to drop in FY 2016, while those from Army customers will grow.  The implications of this are clear for Defense contractors – in FY 2016 the Army will spend less money on contracted efforts for computing services outside of DISA.  Conversely, the Air Force may be a better place to search for specific opportunities in this area.

Second, Defense-Wide appropriations are expected to nearly double, suggesting that the Defense Agencies are continuing to embrace the enterprise services provided by DISA under the JIE concept.

Third, Navy new orders are expected to decline slightly, from $44M in FY 2015 to $42M in 2016.  The Navy’s ongoing flat/declining use of DISA services continues to suggest the service will spend its computing services contract dollars with its big CANES and NGEN prime contractors.  The Marine Corps’ new orders are expected to grow slightly, up from $28M in FY 2015 to $33M in FY 2016.

New Orders from Defense Customers – Telecom/Enterprise Acquisition Services

Turning now to transport and enterprise acquisition services, which DISA reports in combination, the new order trends are similar to those in computing services.

Nearly all parts of DoD are expected to spend more with DISA in FY 2016 than they did in FY 2015.  Only the Navy ($571M in FY 2015 dropping to $569M in FY 2016) and Marines ($111M in FY 2015 dropping to $110M in FY 2016) show declines.  Dropping Navy/USMC spending is consistent with statements by officials from both services that they will continue to rely more heavily on their own networks rather than DISA’s for transport and communications services.

In conclusion, in FY 2016 DISA will continue to play the central role in the DoD’s new Joint Information Environment, with spending on its services by the MILDEPS dependent on the level of each department’s involvement in standing up the JIE.  Spending by the Army, Air Force, and Defense Agencies will continue to be the strongest, while spending by the Navy and Marine Corps continues to lag.


Software-Defined Networking: The Army Prepares to Reap the Rewards of Joint Modernization

For many years the U.S. Army has been the butt of jokes about the antiquated state of its information technology infrastructure.  Army personnel returning from deployments had better connectivity and IT services available to them in the field than they have in garrison and bandwidth into and out of Army camps, posts, and stations has been measured in megabytes, not gigabytes.  Dedicated Army IT professionals from the CIO/G-6 down to the Program Executive Offices have worked hard to change this situation by implementing initiatives like Defense Enterprise Email and by leading the move to a Joint Information Environment.  In doing so, they have changed the game for the U.S. Army and put the service in an excellent position to advance rapidly down the timeline of technology evolution.

Lest readers think I overstate the case for the Army’s advancements in modernizing its IT infrastructure, I refer them to a procurement that recently appeared.  The Global Enterprise Fabric acquisition (Solicitation #W91RUS15GEF1) demonstrates that the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command also sees the advancements that have been made.  NETCOM is seeking to take advantage of those advancements by implementing a software-defined infrastructure that enables centralized management of the JIE, Joint Regional Security Stacks, and Multi-Protocol Label Switching architecture.

That NETCOM is researching the possibility of implementing an enterprise SDN solution speaks volumes about how far the Army’s network modernization has come and where it is going.  The CONUS deployment of MPLS routers across the enterprise is targeted for completion sometime later this calendar year.  Similarly, the standing up of Joint Regional Security Stacks in the CONUS is also slated for later this year.  Add the Army’s recent transition to Defense Enterprise Email and you have a much more secure network with much higher bandwidth.  These network upgrades will also allow the Army to take advantage of cloud computing services offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency and commercial partners.

The Global Enterprise Fabric envisioned by NETCOM will help deliver computing enterprise services in three broad areas - Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Network Services, and Computer Network Defense – all of which are managed and monitored within a software-defined framework.  NETCOM’s turn to SDN is a harbinger of things to come across the DoD.  Deltek’s recent Emerging Federal Technology Markets, 2015 report documented that throughout the federal government two steps are leading agencies to SDN: modernizing IT infrastructure and planning for/adopting cloud computing. Cloud computing is not necessary for an agency to implement SDN, but in evolutionary terms the adoption (or desired adoption) of cloud may be decisive because it spurs on other foundational investments.

As agencies grow more comfortable with cloud computing, their adoption of SDN will increase or, as NETCOM’s Global Enterprise Fabric concept illustrates, their adoption of SDN and cloud computing will go hand-in-hand.  Herein lays the opportunity for those seeking new business.  Agencies already walking the path toward the cloud, particularly the use of Infrastructure-as-a-Service, will already have some idea of the viability of SDN.  Seek out those agencies making IaaS investments and you’ll find those most interested in discussing SDN as the next step.


What Agencies Really Spend on Cloud: A Case Study

Several years ago, Deltek’s Federal Industry Analysis team developed a sophisticated system for estimating what the actual federal information technology budget is every year. FIA did this because the figures released by the Office of Management and Budget capture only a portion of yearly IT spending, meaning government contractors had only part of the picture to work with when it came time to set strategic goals. The deficiencies in OMB-provided estimates on cloud computing spending are no different than the overall IT figures. They also don’t capture everything that is being spent, leading vendors to develop flawed assumptions about where money is going toward cloud efforts.

Basing strategic goals on the estimates provided by federal agencies is a big unstated risk to government contractors. Bid and proposal dollars may be pushed in the wrong direction, sales targets may be set unrealistically high/low, etc., and yet these kinds of decisions are made all the time using the government’s partial data. How far off are the government figures when it comes to spending on cloud?  Let’s look at an example.

According to the Department of the Interior, it spent approximately $11.4 million on cloud services in FY 2014. The programs on which the money was spent are:

So far so good, right? Sure, however, the numbers you see are only part of the picture. According to data from Deltek’s Cloud Computing Database the actual amount that DOI customers spent on cloud services in FY 2014 was at least $21.6 million; $10 million more than was reported by the DOI. The table below shows these investments.

Comparing the two tables we can see that the investments listed in table one don’t match those in table two. This is because DOI contracting personnel reported spending data by service rendered (table two), not by investment title. It follows, therefore, that an investment called “Cloud Hosting & Support Services” could related to one of the program investments mentioned above.

The point of this exercise is to offer a word of warning when it comes to strategic planning. The fact is that the IT spending data provided by federal agencies is incomplete, meaning it can strongly skew our view of where a respective agency’s IT investment dollars are going. Understanding this can make the difference between setting realistic and unrealistic goals, so having the right tools is critical for making the best possible decisions.


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