DISA shifts to new strategy for network support

Performance-based GSM contract significant departure from past approach

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s much-anticipated $4.6 billion indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the Global Information Grid Services Management (GSM) program will provide total life cycle management for the Defense Information Systems Network worldwide, including engineering services, material, equipment and facilities.


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DISA outlines major network and enterprise initiatives


GSM is the follow-on procurement to DISN Global Support, which DISA awarded 10 years ago to Science Applications International Corp. and Apptis (formerly SETA). With extensions to the contract, DGS had a value of as much as $4.8 billion in awards.

GSM will have three parts to the procurement:

  • GSM Operations. By far the largest of the three awards, GSM-O is a full-and-open single-award competition, with a three-year base plus two two-year options.
  • GSM Engineering, Transition and Implementation. GSM-ETI is a small-business set-aside award that is open to multiple-contract awards.
  • GSM Projects and Support. GSM-P&S also is a small-business set-aside award that is part of the Alliant Small Business governmentwide acquisition contract vehicle.

By using three separate procurements, multiple awards and multiple competition types, the GSM program allows DISA to secure wider participation by industry.

A significant difference in this GSM procurement is that it is a fixed-price, performance-based contract with incentives based on cost and performance parameters. That deviates from DGS, which was primarily for time and materials on a task-order basis, with no incentive element for cost or performance.

The GSM acquisition is likely the biggest DISA contract available in the next few years, and it reflects changes in the defense acquisition environment. Time-and-materials contracts that rely on task orders have grown increasingly unpopular in an era of tightening budgets, with Defense Department demands for increased efficiency and cost-sensitive innovation.

The large GSM-O contract component includes provisioning, network operations, network assurance and network maintenance of the global DISN, with cybersecurity being a heightened concern since the previous award of DGS in 2001. GSM-O will sustain the existing network and also provide for subsequent technology modernization and enhancements. Strong global resources will be needed of GSM-O bidders, for the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to DISA’s ever-growing need to serve warfighters in overseas theatres. The final request for proposal for the GSM-O solicitation was issued in January, with proposals from bidders due by mid-March 2011. It was anticipated that DISA would start awarding GSM contracts by the end of the third quarter or early fourth  quarter of 2011, but new contract extentions that were announced as Defense Systems went to press throws that schedule into doubt.

DISA awarded Apptis, McLean. Va., and SAIC of San Diego, Calif., two contract modifications that add two, six-month option periods to their existing contracts. Agency officials said that the optional extension periods are to ensure continuous, uninterrupted service as the government re-competes the associated efforts.

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