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FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Set to Pass

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 has crossed a major hurdle to passage before the end of the calendar year as a House-Senate compromise bill has emerged. The final bill has implications for information technology acquisition and management at the Pentagon and beyond.

The legislation is a combination of two bills that each passed last May: HR 4435, which passed the full House, and S 2410, which passed in the Senate Armed Services Committee. As is typical, this year’s NDAA goes well beyond funding of national defense operations to include organizational and acquisition reform efforts and information technology priorities. Below is an overview of the high points of the bill.


  • Authorizes $521.3 billion in base discretionary defense spending and an additional $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), reflecting the President’s initial request of $58.6 billion and the additional request of $5.1 billion to primarily cover counter-ISIL operations. The FY ‘15 NDAA is $48.0 billion less than the enacted FY ‘14 NDAA.
  • Does not reflect a proposed BRAC round as requested by the Administration, citing concerns that previous rounds did not yield the promised savings but rather imposed large up-front costs only to shift property between federal agencies. The current flux of military size and structure is also cited as a reason to postpone a BRAC round.
  • Selectively supports some White House proposals – like limited compensation increases for military personnel, including a for a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers – while adjusting others – like replacing a 5% reduction in basic allowance for housing (BAH) with a 1% decrease. This NDAA also blocks retirement of the A-10 aircraft, but provides for some reprogramming of those funds to higher priorities if needed.

Reform Efforts

  • Restores the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) to an independent status, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, and increases the ONA budget for FY ‘15 by $10 million to $18.9 million
  • Directs the SECDEF to report on the feasibility of reducing or consolidating combatant command functions by FY20 and a plan to implement a periodic review and analysis of management headquarters. This NDAA would also task GAO with assessing the DoD’s headquarter reduction efforts as part of GAO’s previous work assessing HQ growth.
  • Directs the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, (USD (AT&L)) and senior acquisition executives for the Navy and the Air Force to issue DoD-wide policies implementing a standard checklist to be completed before issuing a solicitation for any new contract for services or exercising an option under an existing services contract. The FY ‘08 NDAA established an annual services contracts inventory requirement that DoD has yet to fully implement.
  • As a cost-control mechanism, the bill requires the Comptroller General to conduct a review of cases in which an acquisition program office believes that the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation has required testing above the required test plan.
  • Directs the SECDEF to provide the congressional defense committees with frequent reports on DoD’s damage assessment resulting from unauthorized disclosures of classified information and steps the Department is taking to mitigate the damage.
  • Provides for an overhaul of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) process to produce a new Defense Strategy Review that is more long-term and strategic in nature and a more useful oversight tool.

Information Technology and Cyber Operations

  • Directs the President to maintain a list of nation-states or individuals that engage in economic or industrial espionage using cyber tools, and allows for the President to impose sanctions on such individuals or nation-states
  • Directs the SECDEF to designate an executive agency for cyber test ranges and another for cyber training ranges to better coordinate and resource each
  • Requires the development of a Major Force Program for cyber to better account for the budgeting and resourcing of cyber operations capabilities
  • Requires mandatory reporting on penetrations of operationally critical contractor networks
  • Requires the development and implementation of operational metrics for the performance of the Joint Information Environment (JIE)
  • Implements the Federal Information Technology Reform Act (FITARA) that has stalled and been removed from last year’s NDAA, according to Nextgov. FITARA will give additional budgetary and management authorities to agency CIOs, although no so much in the DoD. Nextgov also notes that the NDAA also supports federal data center consolidation efforts, the DoD’s move to cloud computing, and a plan to expand the use special IT acquisition experts.

While the final bill still needs to pass both the full House and Senate and be signed by the president, the FITARA provisions should not be a major reason for a presidential veto, according to a Federal News Radio interview with some members of Congress.  

Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.


Is DOD Changing Its Approach to a Common Data System?

A key roadblock for defense contract inventory efforts revolves around the dearth of accurate and reliable data. This hindrance is linked to unresolved issues with implementation of the planned common data system. A review launched in September 2014 aims to identify and develop data collection approaches, sparking questions as to whether the DOD will abandon plans to implement a common data system modelled  after the Army’s.

In November 2011, the DOD released a plan to develop a common technology solution to compile and review its inventory of contracted services. This plan leveraged existing data collection approaches, like the Army’s Contractor Manpower Reporting Application (CMRA). The DOD plan outlined objectives for meeting inventory requirements in both the short and long term. The long range elements of the plan included comprehensive guidance for components for the development, review, and use of the contracting inventories. It also provided for the formation of a working group to develop and implement a common data system for collecting and housing the information required for the inventory, including contractor manpower data. Although the plan did not include a detailed timeline or required resources, DOD expected this data system to be operational and for defense components to be reporting on their service contracts by FY 2016.

Varying requirements across the military departments and agencies have posed a challenge for developing a common data system. In September 2013, DOD fielded a system to support DOD components. Like the ones fielded for the Air Force and Navy, this system was also based on the Army’s CMRA. Each of the four CMRA systems is accessible via the Enterprise wide Contractor Manpower Reporting Application, which provides a common webpage. The four systems, however, are independent of one another with their own interface and separate log-ins. Currently, the department is evaluating business processes and guidance needed to standardize the approach to collecting and using inventory data.

Another factor that officials have called out as a hurdle in these efforts is the lack of dedicated resources and business processes to support the development and implementation. While the Army’s program has seen a rise in funding over the past few years, this has been entirely under operations and maintenance work. In FY 2013, the Army’s CMRA received $0.411 million in operations and maintenance. That figure rose to $0.879 million in FY 2014. The requested funding level for FY 2015 is just over half a percent higher at $0.884 million. The move to a common approach for data collection and reporting would likely require resources for development, modernization, and enhancement. For the Army, that would be either modest amounts to make minor adjustments to align with the rest of the DOD, or it would need to be a sum large enough to support a major overhaul. Results from the DOD’s September 2014 review are expected to be reported in December 2014.


Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin.


Significant VA Contract Vehicle Up for Recompete: T4NG

If you want to do business with VA, don’t ignore Transformation Twenty One Total Technology Program Next Generation (T4NG).  With a ceiling value just over $22 billion, T4NG is expected to be a vital vehicle for the purchase of IT solutions within the VA.

Program Snapshot:

Title:  Transformation Twenty One Total Technology Program Next Generation (T4NG)

Description:  Contractor-provided solutions in support of IT, health IT, and telecommunications, to include services and incidental hardware/software, for customer requirements that vary across the entire spectrum of existing and future VA technical environments.

Period of Performance:  Five-year base with one five-year option period

Number/Type of Awardees:  Up to 20.  Four awards will be reserved for SDVOSB contractors and four awards will be reserved for VOSB concerns.  Four awards will also be reserved for Women Owned Small Business concerns and/or HUBZone Small Business concerns.

Award Basis:  Best value

RFP Release:  On or about November 2014

Proposals Due:  On or about December 2014

Contract Award:  On or about December 2015

The current T4 vehicle is the second most utilized program by VA behind the SEWP contracts.  Although current spending to date by VA on T4 ($2.4 billion) amounts to only 20% of the ceiling value, it represents a significant portion of overall VA IT spending.  Over 400 task orders have been awarded to date with average spending per task order of $5 million.  Over 40% of the task orders awarded had three or less bids submitted.  12% of the tasks awarded had only one bid submitted.  T4 contracts expire June 30, 2016.

At a procurement industry day earlier this week, the T4NG contracting officer announced that a portion of the evaluation criteria will be based on veteran employment.  Evaluation factors will include technical, past performance, veterans’ involvement, veterans’ employment, small business participation commitment, and price.  The resulting contracts will also hold aggressive small business participation goals, as well as notably longer performance periods than their predecessor contracts, with five year bases and five year option periods. 

T4NG is anticipated to be one of the preferred methods for buying IT solutions for the VA.  Contractors doing business with the VA or targeting VA work, should consider positioning themselves on this new vehicle.   


Federal Shared Services Marketplace Goes Public

Since the spring of 2013, government agencies have been able to find and buy shared service offerings through an online database called Uncle Sam’s List. The site was launched by the Chief Information Officers Council as part of a strategy to promote use of shared services. By August 2013, over 100 shared services were listed, and the total number was still growing. Now, those shared service listings are being made public to improve government-industry collaboration. 

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its Shared Services Strategy in 2012. The plan outlined steps for agencies to take toward reducing over $46 billion in duplicative IT investments, focusing on commodity IT purchases as well as government-wide and intra-agency shared services. In the four months following the strategy release, agencies faced a series of deadlines to advance enterprise planning and the Shared-First approach. Since the initiative launched, agency adoption of shared services through Uncle Sam’s List has simplified acquisition and delivered cost savings. For example, by consolidating computer buying contracts, the Department of Commerce was able to cut its spending on desktop computers by 35 percent and achieve over $200 million annually in administrative costs. 

The information-gathering phase of promoting shared services involved collecting data about what agencies are paying for different products and services. Gathering that data proved valuable early on by highlighting the broad range in prices the government has paid for the same capability. Different agencies were paying anywhere from $21 to $98 per month for identical cellphone plans. That knowledge allows agencies to identify the lower end of the spectrum and target moving toward that price point. To date, Uncle Sam’s List has been maintained within the internal government collaboration site. Initially, the community was entirely maintained by the CIO Council’s Shared Services subcommittee, who determined which service areas, providers, and contracts got listed. That, however, is about to change. 

On September 16, 2014, Federal Computer Week reported that Uncle Sam’s List will be going public. Over the next weeks, version 1.2 of Uncle Sam’s List will get updated with an XML feed. Once the database is public, federal and commercial providers will be able to feed into the list. Building on interview comments from the co-chairman of the CIO Council’s Shared Services Task Force, the article suggests that the move is expected to encourage “a balanced and competitive environment.” 

Vendor Implications 

Easier access to data about federal and commercial commodity IT and service offerings will undoubtedly impact market competition. The ability for industry to access and add to the database will create new opportunities for vendors to provide IT services to agencies targeting agile delivery. The move could also provide vendors with greater visibility into competition within the federal commodity IT and service marketplace. The clearinghouse of services could allow greater insight into the business opportunities around shared services and reframe how vendors characterize markets for their products and services, raising vendor profiles as well as making it easier to identify common requirements being met through shared services.


Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin.


DISA’s FY 2015 IT Budget: Implications for Industry

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 budget for upcoming fiscal year 2015 and breaks down some salient points vendors need to know.

DISA’s IT Budget in Context

Before diving into the numbers it’s worth taking some time to understand where DISA’s IT budget fits into the broader IT budget for the Department of Defense.  Figure 1 below shows the Defense-Wide IT budgets for FY 2014 and 2015 alongside DISA’s IT budget for those same years.

Why the big drop in DISA’s FY 2015 IT budget if the agency is assuming a bigger role providing enterprise IT services?  Simple, it’s because the DoD CIO changed the way it calculates the Defense Working Capital Fund in the FY 2015 budget.  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.  Therefore, the FY 2015 IT budget number for DISA shown in Figure 1 includes $1.85B for the Defense Working Capital Fund.  In FY 2014 this number was $3.9B because it included operations costs for investments not under DISA’s operational control.

Assuming, however, that the proportion of operational costs reflected in DISA’s FY 2015 number were roughly the same in FY 2014, we can conclude that DISA’s IT budget typically makes up 29% of the total Defense-Wide IT budget annually.

Defense Customer Appropriations – Computing Services

Moving now to the specific services that DISA provides, Figure 2 shows what Defense customers have “appropriated” (i.e., spent) or intend to spend on DISA’s computing services from FY 2013 to FY 2015.  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 new milCloud infrastructure service.  The data for these services reveals a few interesting trends.

First, Army and Air Force appropriations have jumped significantly in the last two years.  This should come as no surprise both Services have fallen solidly behind implementing the JIE.  Army’s appropriations will rise by 52% from $112M to a projected $170M.  Air Force’s appropriations show a slightly larger increase percentage-wise, rising 52.5% from $101M to a projected $154M over the same period.

Second, Defense-Wide appropriations show massive jump on a percentage basis of 132%, from $25M to a projected $58M, indicating that the Defense Agencies are also enthusiastically embracing the enterprise services provided by DISA under the JIE concept.

Third, Navy and Marine Corps appropriations register as relatively flat or declining.  In the Marine Corps’ case, there is a small jump of 3.6% from $28M in FY 2014 to a projected $29M in FY 2015.  Conversely, Navy appropriations show a modest increase of 3% over the same period from $32M in FY 2014 to a projected $33M in FY 2015.  It is worth noting, however, that from FY 2013 to FY 2015, Navy appropriations show a decrease of 5.7%, from $35M to a projected $33M.

In short, while Navy officials may publicly toe the line with respect to the JIE and enterprise services provided by DISA, the data does not reflect growing support financially.  If anything, the data reflects the Navy’s intent to continue down its own path with NGEN.

Defense Customer Appropriations – Telecom/Enterprise Acquisition Services

Turning now to DISA’s transport and enterprise acquisition services, Defense customer appropriations show trends similar to those in computing services.  As Figure 3 shows, use of DISA for telecom and acquisition support has risen significantly over the last three years.

Army’s appropriations show the greatest growth, rising 38.5%, from $1.55B in FY 2013 to a projected $2.1B in FY 2015.  Air Force’s appropriations over the same period show similar growth, rising roughly 30% from $1B in FY 2013 to a projected $1.3B in FY 2015.  Even Navy’s use of DISA transport and acquisition services has increased, rising 10.3% from $560M in FY 2013 to a projected $618M in FY 2015.  Finally, growth of Defense-Wide appropriations has also accelerated, rising 8.5% from $423M in FY 2013 to a projected $459M in FY 2015.


The data discussed above has several implications that are critical for vendors:

First, the DoD’s shift to enterprise IT services and rollout of the JIE is real.  This trend has momentum and is expected to accelerate.  Even contracting is being affected.  For example, anyone following Army procurements in particular (i.e., Unified Capabilities) has noticed the shift toward using DISA’s contracting services more frequently.

Second, a greater, in some cases much greater, percentage of Defense IT dollars are being spent at DISA and not on contracts with vendors.  Army, for example, is projected to spend $2.3B with DISA in FY 2015 while Air Force is projected to spend $1.46B and Navy is projected to spend $651M.  This is real money being taken out of the Defense IT market.  Those who benefit are vendors already working at DISA.  Given the amount of funding flowing into DISA, the agency is rapidly becoming the number one recommended focus for business development related activity.  Any company seeking to sustain itself in the IT business at DoD must devote more time, funding, and staff to developing relationships and shaping requirements at DISA.

Third, for the time being the Navy is an exception to this trend, as it continues to chart its own course.  Navy is already proving this with its use of Amazon Web Services to host large collections of unclassified data.  This situation may change in the near future, if comments by Navy officials are any indication.  Until then the potential business opportunity is greater with Navy than with the other Military Departments.



IT Priorities and Challenges at DHS are Here for the Long Haul

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to economize on their IT investments by adopting more commercial technologies while implementing an IT-as-a-Service approach. The result is a convergence of technologies and services that presents ongoing challenges to traditional IT contracting models.

At a recent event that I attended cosponsored by The Chertoff Group and the Professional Service Council's (PSC) current and former DHS officials and others discussed where DHS was going vis-à-vis this convergence and how it will impact industry and contracting at the department.

Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff gave a keynote on priorities and opportunities, followed by a panel of industry, government and Hill experts led by PSC’s Stan Soloway that examined the convergence of services and technology into DHS’s mission and how this convergence is influencing business decisions and procurement policy. The panelists were:

  • Anne Altman, IBM Federal
  • Craig Chambers, DHS Science & Technology Directorate
  • Luke McCormack, DHS Chief Information Officer
  • Ben Nicholson, House Committee on Appropriations
  • Paul Schneider, former DHS Deputy Secretary; Principal, The Chertoff Group

Priorities and Challenges

Between the opening keynote by Chertoff and the subsequent panel discussion, several themes around current and future DHS priorities and challenges coalesced, including:

  • All Things IT-as-a-Service – DHS continues to implement this approach that seeks to avoid bearing the cost of technological obsolescence. You can see it in their cloud and managed services efforts, as well as their avoidance of in-house infrastructure investments. They have targeted back-office systems like payroll and are doing this with learning management system now. Currently, over half their budget is spent in these areas and they will continue to do more. Their model and goal is to reinvest the savings into new and critical needs.

  • Technology Innovation – Bringing innovation to bear when finances are under scrutiny is a continual challenge, so new technology and R&D must deliver a mission outcome in the near-term. Conducting pure R&D for its intrinsic value is hard to support. Panelists challenged industry to collaborate to get iterative results and adopt time/cost-conscious approaches, e.g. perform software development in the cloud to speed it up. Another theme was to innovate by adapting current technologies to meet needs, rather than pursuing disruptive technologies.

  • Aligning to Mission – Clearly defining a unified mission continues to be a challenge for DHS and appropriators want to know "what is your objective?" so that they can align budget to that mission.  This lack of clarity also frustrates industry because without a clear strategic direction or objectives it is difficult to align solutions. DHS is looking at unifying concepts to solve common problems in their current strategic review and portfolio evaluations.

  • Acquisition – Several elements of the acquisition process were mentioned as being a challenge. The LPTA issue is not going away due to budget constraints, so the challenge to DHS is to get the right people at the acquisition table. Often, this is difficult due to the number of vacancies at the department, but things are slowly improving. Procurement rules also have a limiting effect on DHS’s the ability to infuse new technology, especially quickly. Compliance hurdles are part of this challenge.  McCormack said that he would like to combine some of the acquisition classifications to help bridge gaps and help facilitate effective, efficient procurement.

  • Budget – The budget challenge underscores all other challenges and approaches. Even in a highly scrutinized climate, areas that receive high public demand are where the department will also see budget relief. However, the structure of the two-year budget deal caps key DHS categories, so there is still uncertainty.  The budget stagnation over last few years makes it difficult to both sustain operations and invest in new technology. Research is one area that suffers and requires changing models to fund or introduce into the department.

Most of these are consistent themes for those seeking to win business at DHS. The persistence of these challenges means that companies will need to assess their risk tolerance for change and/or uncertainty and be increasingly creative for the foreseeable future.

Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

CAD system, content management software top list of Chicago IT procurement opportunities

The city of Chicago, Illinois, released its most recent buying plan for the Q2 2014 – Q2 2015 period, which provides vendors an idea of what goods and services the city plans to procure over the next 15 months. The plan includes 242 possible procurement opportunities in areas such as work services, commodities, professional services, and small orders. This number is only a slight decrease from the 246 opportunities listed in the previous buying plan for Q4 2013 – Q1 2015.
Not surprisingly, construction opportunities dominated, accounting for 32.6 percent of projects listed, as shown in the figure below. The plan includes projects varying in value, from less than $10,000 to more than $20 million, allowing for companies of all sizes to become vendors for the city.

Source: Deltek
Of the 14 departments that have solicitations expected between now and Q2 2015, more than 55 percent of projects listed in the buying plan fall under the Water Management, Transportation, or Fleet & Facility Management departments. A majority of these projects are construction requirements valued at $1 million to $5 million. However, public library projects also have a strong presence, including an integrated library system valued at $1 million to $5 million, and a new website development opportunity.
While there are only nine Emergency Management and Communications projects included in the buying plan, three of them are in the $10 million to $20 million range, including a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system. This project, which is expected to be solicited in Q1 2015, will replace the department’s current Northrop Grumman CAD system.
The Innovation and Technology Department has five solicitations planned through Q2 2015, though a number of projects in other departments have IT aspects included as part of their requirements. The largest project coming out of the Innovation and Technology Department is a content management and process modernization program (CMPM). While the specific details of the CMPM solicitation are not yet known, the CMPM division of Innovation and Technology oversees the city's content management systems and has a goal of reducing paper operations by 2017 while streamlining overlapping business processes for the city.
Nearly 48 percent of the opportunities listed in the buying plan are valued at $1 million to $10 million, while the majority of big-ticket projects are construction requirements. However, there are eight projects that the city anticipates will cost more than $20 million, including a water utility billing project that will require IT professional services.

Source: Deltek
The city has also included 14 projects with small business set-asides of two types: Small Business Initiative (SBI) and Target Market. The SBI is a construction program the city established in order to augment the projects awarded to local small businesses. The city reports that 30 contracts valued at nearly $50 million have been awarded under the SBI program. Target Market opportunities are directed to minority businesses, including women-owned businesses. The plan includes five Target Market opportunities, including an Innovation and Technology master consulting agreement for IT professional services.
Vendors can expect to see the greatest amount of these opportunities procured during 2014. However, Chicago does tend to roll over its projects from one buying plan to the next, so don’t be surprised if a project listed in the current plan is delayed until the next one, or even further. Since 2011, the city has only issued between 140 and 175 solicitations in any 15-month period, meaning that 65 to 100 projects listed in the buying plan will not be procured during this cycle.
In addition, not all of the opportunities listed in the plan are guaranteed to be solicited. As is the case with many projects, sometimes the owning agency reprioritizes projects or decides a requirement can be met using internal resources. In other situations, funding can’t be secured and a project is canceled. Deltek has seen opportunities included in buying plans continue to be pushed out for up to two years, and in several occasions they have been canceled.
While it can be used as a guide to develop strategies for doing business with the city, it’s also important to keep in mind that not all solicitations that are released by the city come from the buying plan. For example, in 2013, of the 11 solicitations that Deltek considers IT the primary requirement, only four were listed in any of the procurement forecasts released by the city. So, if you don’t see any projects of interest in the plan, be assured there are other opportunities available. 
You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in Chicago in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial




DoD Cloud Innovation, Part 2: Cloud-Enabled Modular Services

Last week’s post examined research related to mobile cloudlets as part of cloud computing innovation at the Department of Defense.  This week’s post continues the focus on cloud innovation by diving into work the DoD has contracted for cloud-enabled modular services related to expanding use of virtual training solutions.
Multiple trends have driven a shift over the last decade toward greater use of virtual training by the Military Departments.  First, evolving technology has provided warfighters with the ability to train in virtual environments using mobile devices, sensors, greater throughout capability, and back-end tremendous computing power for modeling and simulation applications.  Second, fiscal necessity has made the use of enterprise technological solutions imperative.  Both of these trends should gather strength in fiscal 2015 and beyond.
The Evolution of Joint Training
Way back in 2002, as a result of the exercise Millennium Challenge, a concept for Joint, Live, Virtual, Constructive (JLVC) training emerged at the DoD.  This concept evolved over the next decade into the JLVC 2020, a next-generation approach to training that emphasized the use of modular modeling and simulation services hosted in a cloud environment.  The idea behind the modular approach was to provide a standardized, flexible, and reusable training solution that promised significant cost reductions across the department.  The hosting of modules in a cloud environment further maximized the possibility of reuse beyond the confines of training-specific simulation centers, to include even coalition and NATO partners.  In short, all of the Services could be on the same page when it came to the training they experienced, thus enhancing the “joint” nature of contemporary military operations.
Current State and Work Ahead
The road to cloud-enabling JLVC 2020 is a long one that will require a budgetary commitment of approximately $75+ million over the period FY 2014 to FY 2018, according to one estimate from 2012.
Efforts currently underway include:
  • Continuing development and refinement of the JLVC 2020 strategy, roadmap, and conceptual design coordinated with the Services, Combatant Commands, coalition partners, agencies, and DOD modeling and simulation community to deliver a future joint training environment reliant on cloud-enabled modular services.  Initial capability is expected in FY 2016 and full operational capability in FY 2019.
  • Continuing construction of the Joint Training Enterprise Architecture decomposing modeling and simulation, networking, and IT applications into a cloud-enabled modular service supporting Combatant Command and Service joint training requirements.
  • Conducting JLVC 2020 Integration Events #2 and #3 to prepare for initial limited operational capability.
This work will be carried out in parallel with the standing up of the DoD’s Joint Information Environment.  In fact, the creation of the JIE is a driving force behind the joint training concept as it provides the infrastructure across which cloud-based “Simulation-as-a-Service” will be delivered.  DoD budget documents note that the Cloud-Enabled Modular Services for JLVC 2020, or CEMS, for short, will be hosted in the “JIE cloud.”  This likely means DISA’s new milCloud capability.  However, as DISA continues to certify commercial infrastructure providers, vendors there is always the possibility that the DoD will move JLVC 2020 to a commercially-hosted environment.
Lastly, who’s doing the work providing the CEMS for JLVC 2020?  The available evidence points to a single contractor – Roland & Associates – the builder of the Joint Theater Level Simulation (JTLS) capabilities that are to be transitioned into CEMS through reuse of as much JTLS algorithms and parametric data as possible.


Opportunities in Army Network Operations

Just before the Christmas holiday I posted a short piece explaining how network engineering efforts in the Army are leading the way to the Defense Department’s new Joint information Environment (JIE).  In this post I’ll elaborate on some of the points I made earlier, especially concerning the Army’s focus on network operations.
The December post noted that the Army has expressed an interest in acquiring a number of capabilities that it may host in its new Core Data Centers once those centers are in place.  Upon reflection I realize now that I got ahead of myself.  There is a lot of ground for the Army to cover before it can turn its attention to acquiring the capabilities I mentioned in the earlier post.  This is particularly the case as far as network operations (NetOps) are concerned.

Infrastructure Enhancements

Presently the Project Manager Installation Information Infrastructure Communications and Capabilities (PM I3CS) remains focused on upgrading the network and communications hardware required by the Army to increase bandwidth and network interoperability across the Service’s bases, posts, camps, and stations (B/P/C/S).  This effort includes:
  • Upgrading core routers capable of supporting speeds of up to 100 GB per second.
  • Reducing Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet) entry and exit points from 435 in the continental U.S. to fewer than 20 points globally.
  • Deploying upgraded Application Delivery Network/End User Building (ADN/EUB) switches.
These efforts, presumably being carried out largely via orders issued under the Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD) IDIQ contract, are scheduled for completion in the CONUS by the end of fiscal 2014.  Work will then shift to overseas locations for fiscal 2015-2016.  Simultaneously the Army is working to consolidate data centers into a handful of Core Data Centers.  The anticipated result of these efforts is to have built by fiscal 2017 a more highly integrated and interoperable network infrastructure capable of delivering enterprise services.

Network Operations Capabilities

This is where a series of network operations capabilities fit in that I errantly referred to as “enterprise services” back in December.  According to Army documents, some of these capabilities may be procured “as-a-Service.”  Whether these “services” will be hosted in the Army’s CDC’s or in commercial data centers remains to be seen.  The capabilities currently on the Army’s radar to be delivered as managed network operations services are as follows:
  • IP Network Management System (NetMan)
  • Network Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS)
  • Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS)
  • Firewall Element Management
  • Proxy Management
  • Router Element Management
  • Switch Element Management
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) Management
  • Virtualization Management System (VMS)
  • Network Access Control (NAC)
  • Identity Management System
  • Directory Services Management

Given the Army’s anticipated schedule for completing its network infrastructure upgrades (i.e., the end of FY 2014), I assume we may see procurement activity related to these capabilities beginning this fiscal year.  Where the opportunities will appear remains a mystery.  Some may be competed openly while others may be procured via contract vehicles like PD CHESS’ IT Enterprise Solutions 2 – Services (ITES-2S).  However they are procured, look for them to appear sooner rather than later.


TTC's Big Data Conference Offers Big Insights

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference on government big data put on by the Technology Training Corporation.  TTC always puts on an excellent event featuring a balanced mix of government and industry speakers that provide multiple perspectives on the subject at hand.  The subject of this symposium was big data for the defense and intelligence communities.  Given that these two parts of the federal government are trailblazers in the use of big data solutions, I went to the conference in anticipation of getting a plethora of good insight into capabilities that the DoD and IC are looking for.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The first major theme that cut across most of the presentations was the intersection of cloud computing and big data.  This is a subject I’ve written on several times in the last year, particularly in regard to the fact that cloud computing is proving to be an enabling factor for big data capabilities.  This theme was echoed by several of the speakers.  For example, Jill Singer, formerly the Chief Information Officer for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and now a partner with Deep Water Point, called cloud a “game changer” when it came to the ways that federal customers are seeking to leverage IT services in general and big data capabilities in particular.  Diving deeper into Ms. Singer’s comments, she stated that “big data is about the network” meaning “big infrastructure companies [will need to] make an investment to keep up.”  The need for big infrastructure gets straight to the point about the value of cloud for government customers.  Even more than migrating applications to the cloud, government customers are looking for ways to divest themselves of infrastructure spending.  This is translating into big contracts for vendor provided cloud based infrastructure that customers can buy on a “per drink” basis.

John Marshall, Deputy Director of the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) Program Management Office at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), echoed the importance of infrastructure, but added that bandwidth concerns are causing the DoD/IC to rethink data location.  As an example, Mr. Marshall cited the collocation of data centers and access points to ensure that the Defense and Intel Communities have adequate bandwidth to move big data around.  Another challenge DoD and IC components are having is finding cross-domain solutions that enable the free flow of data to proper classification levels while simultaneously keeping the data secure.  Lastly, Mr. Marshall stressed the need for better data mining capabilities and trained analysts to glean insight from the data.

Another speaker, Lisa Shaler-Clark, the Deputy Director/Program Manager for Futures at Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) touched on similar themes as Mr. Marshall, but expanded her comments to explain how INSCOM is leveraging cloud to address some of the cross-domain challenges.  Specifically, INSCOM is consolidating data into a “one cloud per domain” approach with cross-domain interfaces.  Data in these clouds is tagged (metadata) so that analysts can choose and analyze the data they require for their respective missions.  The biggest challenge, Ms. Shaler-Clark said, is balancing the use of 4 different architectures across the IC.  These architectures are the Intelligence Community IT Environment, (ICITE), for national and international level intelligence, the Joint Information Environment (JIE) for the strategic domain, the Army’s Common Operating Environment (COE) for the tactical domain, and the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise or DI2E.

Summarizing these priorities and challenges, the pain points discussed make it clear that the Defense and Intelligence Communities require big data solutions in the following areas:
  • Improving cross-domain data sharing
  • Improving data analysis capabilities, including text mining and full motion video analysis tools
  • Developing effective bandwidth utilization strategies
  • Reconciling disparate cloud architectures
Vendors offering solutions to any/all of these challenges will find eager partners in the DoD/IC. 



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