IT Priorities Snapshot: Department of Commerce

Published: May 20, 2015

Big DataBudgetDOCCommunications ServicesSatellite Communications

Federal agencies prepare a range of strategic and budgetary documents that help outline organizational priorities. For example, agency’s FY 2016 budget request includes business cases for key technology investments, which provide insight into where government is relying on contractors as well as critical capabilities they are looking to develop.

Typically, discussion of agency priorities focuses on investments with high total dollar value or key strategic impact. While these criteria are useful for discussions around contracting opportunities, they may assume disproportionate levels of spending will carry over to government contractors. By eliminating the portion of spending dedicated to supporting government staff, funding levels more closely reflect the planned role for contractors.

At the Department of Commerce, the top ten investments by total requested IT spending track pretty closely with set of programs yielding the highest values of contractor addressability. There are, however, some shifts in the program rankings that result from disregarding the funding for associated government employees.

Another area of interest for the contracting community is spending associated with technology development, modernization, and enhancement (DME). This portion of funding often aligns with new opportunities; although, in recent years, agencies have increasingly leveraged operational spending to support ongoing requirements as well as upgrades. Delving into the top five investments by total spending, several major targets for contracting opportunities are apparent based on how much DME will be anticipated. Building on what we previously observed for the contractor addressability, the related development spending underscores the significance of these programs.

The Department of Commerce is looking to advance a range of capabilities through these key investments, which means they pose strategic value to the organization’s mission areas and future plans. Vendors can expect to see continued investment in areas like technology infrastructure, data collection, and data analysis. Bureau level investments in technology infrastructure continue to emphasize modernization, improving security, and enhancing network performance. Efforts to support scientific and census missions include plans to advance data collection capabilities. Similarly, data processing systems within the department are responsible for handling growing volumes of different types of information, e.g. patent applications, sensor input for weather and climate research. While the increasing demand to leverage government data is prompting organizations within the Commerce Department to explore new business models, numerous near-term technology requirements are likely to drive continued reliance on industry support.