DISA moves away from traditional contract structures

Agile development demands more flexible contracts, officials say

As the Defense Information Systems Agency prepares for upcoming contracts to support the combatant command, such as its joint concept technology demonstrations and its Force Generation and Senior Mashup programs, industry can expect to see a shift away from traditional firm fixed-price contract types, according to two senior DISA officials who spoke Aug. 17 at the DISA Customer and Industry Forum in Baltimore.

“Firm fixed-price works really well for some things … but [for some contracts] we’re doing agile development and we don’t actually know the requirements in advance. We develop the requirements in short, tight cycles with the operator, and firm fixed-price doesn’t work as well as we’d like in that case,” said Dave Mihelcic, DISA's chief technology officer. “We’re evaluating options and we may use another, more flexible contract type.”

He added that time and materials would be an unlikely candidate, though.

Although firm fixed-price contract types aren’t ideal for all contracts, they do play an important role and will continue to be used, said Kathleen Miller, DISA procurement director.

“Firm fixed price is not the be-all, end-all; however, if we have something we’ve done year after year, we should have a good idea of the ebbs and flows and have the historical data that [allows familiarity] with the requirements and gets us closer to firm fixed price,” Miller said. “It is just one of several options to give us the best outcome. “

She added that the tightening budgets could mean an increase is low-price technically acceptable source selection for contract awards.

“We are concerned about prices … given the environment, we have to be,” Miller said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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