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Justice to Streamline IT Buying through Service Broker

In the coming year, the Justice Department will join the ranks of agencies leveraging service broker arrangements for acquisition of IT infrastructure and services.

In recent years, Department of Justice (DOJ) has progressed efforts to consolidate contracts, reducing redundancy of acquisition efforts and improving enterprise capabilities. Some of these initiatives began as informal strategic sourcing efforts. The department has actively leveraged Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs) and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) to achieve cost savings. The majority of the department’s mobile device and wireless services were consolidated through several contract vehicles. By leveraging strategic sourcing and shared services for wireless and telecom needs, DOJ can lower equipment expenditures by moving to contracts with best negotiated prices.

Now, it seems that the Justice Department is taking the next step by pursuing service broker. Other federal agencies that have adopted a service broker model include Defense Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). These broker arrangements allow agencies to identify solutions for common requirements and simplify technology buying within organizations.

According to recent reports, DOJ expects to target infrastructure and commodity IT services initially. These technologies would include wide area network (WAN), data centers, storage, email, telecommunications, security, and Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) services. The “next tier” of services that would be addressed, according to Justice’s CIO Klimavicz, cover business enterprise services, such as voice and collaboration.

The decision to formally adopt service brokerage aligns with the department’s strategic plans and technology initiatives. For a number of years, DOJ has actively leveraged Enterprise Level Agreements and Blanket Purchase Agreements to achieve cost savings. In 2012, Justice established ten commodity area working groups focus on IT functions, like data centers, email, and mobility. These groups provide recommendations to the DOJ CIO Council to address commodity investment areas, to identify potential for consolidation and cost savings, as well as to manage milestone and performance metrics.

DOJ’s near term information resource planning highlights 5 goals including institutionalizing IT portfolio management, streamlining operations, enhancing IT security, delivering innovative solutions, and expanding information sharing. The shift to centralized delivery of IT capabilities, such as multi-component (enterprise) IT services, and use of enterprise platforms is expected to drive greater value than silo solutions. Ongoing assessments and continuous enhancement of existing IT assets and vendor relationships will improve the value of the IT portfolio by evaluating the risks of adopting new technologies too soon or sustaining legacy technology for too long.

Brokerage would facilitate increased use of shared services, enable enterprise capabilities, and consolidate departmental purchasing power to improve pricing through strategic sourcing. The Department of Justice’s vision for strategic sourcing has led to the establishment of a Vendor Management Office (VMO) targeting improvement of buying practices for IT infrastructure. The VMO will lead efforts to analyze procurement data, to identify best practices, and to centralize enterprise procurement vehicles.

As with other federal markets being impacted by strategic sourcing, vendors will need to be increasingly mindful of market positioning. IT spending will be increasingly directed through agencies strategic sourcing and preferred contract vehicles, but that shift inhibits spending as government organizations look to achieve economies of scale for commodity IT purchases. The establishment of Vendor Management Offices means contractors can expect increased oversight and greater need to partner smartly.

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

 

The Latest on DoD Unified Capabilities Implementation from the JIE Mission Partners Symposium

Last week in this space I provided an update on cloud computing and enterprise services at the DoD that were discussed at the recent JIE Mission Partners Symposium in Baltimore.  This week the focus turns to Unified Capabilities (UC).  When it comes to the procurement of UC not much has happened since my last post on the subject back in December 2012.  The Army’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) conducted a series of Requests for Information for the capability and it has now turned over responsibility for the acquisition to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).  The Army and DISA have made progress, on the other hand, implementing the Internet Protocol (IP) based infrastructure required for enterprise UC.  This infrastructure consists largely of installing Multi-Protocol Label Switching routers in global JIE “regions” (at this point primarily Europe and the CONUS, with the Pacific pending).

Most interested commercial parties are keeping a keen eye on the UC procurement because it is the acquisition immediately in front of them.  The symposium made clear, however, that infrastructure matters.  Basically, the infrastructure effort is helping to dictate the procurement schedule and eventual rollout date for UC. 

For example, DISA Director, Lieutenant General Ronnie Hawkins, kicked off the conference by stating that continuing the planning stages for UC will be one of DISA’s primary focus areas for the next six months.  Lieutenant General Robert Ferrell, the Army’s CIO/G6, repeated this timeline the following day, noting that the Army anticipates rolling out the first stages of UC in fiscal 2015.  FY 2015 is only 5 months away, suggesting to me that industry won’t see a Request for Proposal for UC until the first third of FY 2015 at the earliest.

This timeframe was further reinforced by PEO EIS Doug Wiltsie, who noted that EIS had just finished reviewing the 53 industry responses they’d received for the UC RFIs.  Responsibility for the UC procurement is being transferred to DISA, which is still in the process of assigning acquisition personnel.  All of this suggests that industry is months away from seeing an RFP, a timeframe that would be consistent with what General Hawkins stated.

As for how UC will be rolled out, this too will take place in phases.  DISA CIO Dave Bennett reported DISA’s intent to push out the new UC capability across DISA headquarters as a pilot in the first stage of implementation.  The reason for doing this is to work out bugs and determine next steps forward.

Doug Wiltsie added that UC is one of the largest efforts that the DoD/Army community is trying to get its arms around.  The scale of the challenge is daunting, with the potential for an estimated 3 to 4 million users of UC across the DoD.

Finally, there was some news in regard to UC and cloud computing.  Wiltsie noted that the Army is working with the National Security Agency to finalize security requirements that will allow a commercial data center to be used for some elements of DoD UC.  These elements are expected to be those that are ordinary use and which generally have a lower security threshold.  So, it is possible that the UC application eventually selected will include capability by the vendor to also host pieces of the solution.