ITES-2S drives Army enterprise movement
'Primary source' for Army IT services operationalizes departmentwide strategy
Since its 2008 launch, the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions 2 Services acquisition program has evolved in lockstep with Army requirements and policies. As plans to link the service's enterprise surge, ITES-2S is emerging as a critical aspect of efforts to integrate the Army's various units.
“ITES-2S is now the primary source for Army hardware and software and the preferred source for Army IT services,” said Michelina LaForgia, project director at the Army’s Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions agency, which oversees much of the service’s IT acquisition.
“Almost half of CHESS hardware and service sales have been through ITES-2S,” LaForgia said. “Our sales have increased 300 percent over the past five years, to nearly $4 billion, so clearly the message has gone out.”
ITES-2S has reached $892 million of its $20 billion, nine-year contract ceiling, LaForgia said. The contract vehicle is tapping the services of small businesses, and a new small-business set-aside award for Army IT services is expected early this fall, she added.
ITES-2 is a follow-on to the Army’s $1 billion ITES contract from 2003, which originally was divided into one contract vehicle for enterprise hardware and another for integrated solutions. ITES-2, a performance-based, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, follows that lead with its two components: ITES-2S and ITES-2 Hardware, which is worth $5 billion and set for 10 years.
The partnerships inspired by ITES-2S have been a catalyst for the acquisition program's success, according to some involved in the program. “This contract vehicle really encourages partnerships between the bigger companies and small businesses,” said Jeremiah Garretson, director of Army operations at Dell Services Federal Government, one of several companies involved in ITES-2S contracting.
“ITES-2S has quality, quantity and velocity,” Garretson said. “Requirements sometimes just pop up, and customers don’t want to go through a long acquisition cycle. This contract vehicle is good for that. It’s a very accommodating contract, and not all contracts are like that.”
LaForgia agreed that the partnerships are important to ITES-2S' popularity. “We have a good partnership with all the vendors. They really take initiative in marketing this as the contract vehicle of choice.”
Program changes during the past year also have contributed to ITES-2S’ prominence, including a new Army force supplement policy that makes the use of CHESS mandatory for commercial IT purchases, LaForgia said.
The guidance carries extra weight because the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (OASA/ALT) has required Army divisions to use CHESS for more commercial technologies than just software, computers and videoconferencing equipment. CHESS contract vehicles are now required for the procurement of other commercial IT equipment, such as routers, servers and printers, regardless of dollar value.
The memo that requires the use of CHESS as the primary source of commercial IT acquisition was signed in May 2009 by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army's chief information officer, and Dean Popps, then acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. The guidance was subsequently incorporated into the Army Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement in April. The current assistant secretary is Malcolm Ross O'Neill.
According to the assistant secretary, the Army has saved more than $4 billion by purchasing IT equipment and commercial software through CHESS.
“The issuance from [the assistant secretary] has a significant impact" on the use of ITES-2S, LaForgia said. Through CHESS, ITES-2S helps enforce security standards across the enterprise because the technologies distributed through the office have security requirements and compliance already built in, she said.
The result is better consistency in requirements, policies and regulations, LaForgia added.
That uniformity is equally important to ITES-2S vendors and the enterprise approach overall, Garretson said. Consistency "helps industry understand where we play and how to keep leveraging capabilities consistently, even as the requirements change,” he said.