Mission support in times of austerity driving Army PEO EIS initiatives

Doug Wiltsie assumed command of Army Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) in October 2011. A member of the Senior Executive Service, he most recently served as deputy program executive officer for the Army’s Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors organization. Wiltsie recently provided written responses to questions from Defense Systems Editor-in-Chief Barry Rosenberg .

DS: What’s at the top of your to-do list for 2013?

Wiltsie: We need to continue delivering innovative capabilities to the field, adapt to new budget realities, ensure that our modernization efforts move forward and continue to improve the IT acquisition process. My top priority is to ensure that, regardless of the changes to the budget or to scheduling, our users continue to receive, without interruption, the critical capabilities that our systems provide .

We develop and field a wide range of products and services that support the soldier, including systems to better manage installations, pay systems, equipment accountability, and communication and computer infrastructure. We are the single manager of biometric capabilities critical to today’s efforts on the battlefield. Our systems touch every soldier, every day, everywhere. So my top priority is to ensure that the services we provide and that our Army relies on continue without interruption.

Another of my top priorities is to ensure that PEO EIS [is] proactively positioned to adapt quickly to changes in budgeting and fiscal uncertainty. We are doing business under a continuing resolution that limits our funding to FY12 levels, and sequestration cuts, scheduled to take effect on March 1, are likely. At the most basic level, we know that defense budgets will continue to decline. While we face this fiscal uncertainty head on…we need to be ready to operate under any of the possible [fiscal] scenarios.

We remain focused on our role as the systems architect for the evolving Army network. Network modernization is a priority of the Army and the Defense Department , and we are working with our partners in the CIO/G-6, Army Cyber Command, ARCYBER and Army Network Enterprise Technology Command to realize the vision of the Network 2020 initiative and implement the solutions.

From an acquisition perspective, priorities include improving sustainment management and strengthening our proactive contract management. Both efforts look to streamline and improve IT acquisition. While programs in sustainment are typically handed off to other organizations, (thus) paving the way for new development, our responsibility as the program managers extends through the entire lifecycle of a system. We are working to better define the transition of operations aspects to the functional organization while still managing system configuration, providing fixes and enhancements, and maintaining security. In addition, we are developing a sustainment organization for the enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) that will be led by the PMs, supported by the Army Materiel Command and include select contractors to provide required upgrades.

Finally, working with the Army Contracting Command, strengthening our proactive contracting management is critical to decreasing the cycle time required to award contracts and to obligate funds…again in an effort to streamline the acquisition process, saving both time and money. Under the direction of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, we’re implementing a pre-release RFP review process. An ongoing conversation with industry, this review process gives us an opportunity to see what innovative technology is already available in the market, as well as giving industry advanced insight into what our needs are and where we are looking to evolve in the future.

DS: How is PEO EIS preparing for the cuts, and what are some of the associated challenges?

Wiltsie: In this uncertain environment, there are some certainties for which we are already planning. We know that in addition to the $170 billion in cuts the Army absorbed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the combination of the continuing resolution (CR), the shortfall in overseas contingency operations funds for Afghanistan, and the sequestration cuts pending could result in a $17 billion to $18 billion shortfall in the Army’s operation and maintenance accounts, with an additional $6 billion cut to other programs. In addition, other limitations enacted by the sequestration and the current CR include prohibiting reallocating funds and freezing funding, not just at FY12 levels, but also in the same FY12 accounts. The effect is that programs that are beginning in FY13 are considered new starts and cannot begin, [and] programs moving from development to deployment may require more production funding in FY13 than was programmed in FY12—forcing a program delay.

Our ERPs—the Global Combat Support System - Army (GCSS-Army), the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System – Army (IPPS-A)—are absolutely critical for the Army to be able to meet the congressionally mandated requirement of audit readiness by 2017 and may be forced to slow down. These are complex systems built to accomplish complex tasks. Their schedules are strategically planned to introduce capabilities in specific ways so as to be able to interoperate to realize the enterprise vision. Changes to the schedule of one program can echo across the other ERP and legacy systems and affect their performance. The speed at which they can develop and deliver capability directly affects whether the Army meets the 2017 deadline. We’re looking now into what impact the cuts and delays will have on the Army meeting the 2017 deadline for audit readiness.

We’ve realized great successes through the ERPs. GFEBS is now fully deployed to over 53,205 end users at 227 locations in 71 countries. This achievement is unmatched in the DOD. In December, GCSS-Army received a Full Deployment Decision (FDD). The FDD paves the way for the implementation of GCSS-Army that will subsume outdated legacy systems that are not financially compliant and integrate approximately 40,000 local supply and logistics databases into a single, enterprise-wide authoritative system. When fully deployed, GCSS-Army will affect every supply room, motor pool, direct-support repair shop, warehouse and property book office in the Army. We will have effectively improved efficiency and visibility for nearly 161,000 users globally and moved even closer to audit readiness by the end of FY17.

DS: Please describe PEO EIS role in Network 2020 and what it means for the Army.

Wiltsie: In August 2012, GEN Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, commented, “Modernizing, especially as end strength is reduced, is the key to ensuring that the Army’s dominance continues…. I am both inspired and encouraged by the Army’s approach to building a network able to connect our forces at all echelons. This remains our number one modernization priority.”

This statement is shaping much of our planning and development efforts. We’re working with the CIO/G-6, ARCYBER and NETCOM to implement solutions that modernize the network in innovative ways that connect us globally, regardless of location. We are currently working to modernize our network through four lines of effort: building capacity, improving security, implementing enterprise services across Army installations and evolving NetOps.

We need to build network capacity to effectively connect and operate across missions, across space and across time. Our Army needs to have the network capacity to execute any mission and the ability to train as we fight, in realistic environments with full suites of capabilities at their fingertips. The [expanded] network capacity will provide connectivity globally in real time. EIS programs are working to build connections to the Global Information Grid backbone, virtualize docking stations to enable connectivity from anywhere, and streamline Army core data centers and installation processing nodes.

Cybersecurity is one of the top threats we face today. We must increase the ability to control individual access to data and services, as well as simplify the network infrastructure. We are currently implementing improved network access control, a new joint security architecture, upgraded and innovative identity, credential and access management, as well as land mobile-radio connection to first responders to realize this goal.

Understanding that the network must ensure availability of information to all authorized users, we are working to provide enterprise services to the edge. The conversion to enterprise email has already started, but enterprise services to the edge includes much more than just email, such as unified capabilities like voice, video, IM/chat, an Army enterprise service desk, and enterprise content management and collaboration.

PEO EIS executed a major year-end buy for large communication routers to greatly increase the capacity at the top 30 CONUS locations, which represent over 85 percent of the Army’s CONUS population. This capability lays a great foundation for the Army to leverage supporting all of the Unified Capabilities (UC), such as voice over IP and the fielding of the many ERPs, including GFEBS, IPSS-A and GCCS-A. This modernization effort not only greatly improves the effectiveness of the network to support enterprise systems, but also enhances the security and reduces the lifecycle costs to the Army. Finally, PEO EIS is continually looking for opportunities to make large-commodity buys of IT equipment that have the potential of significant savings in modernization efforts.

DS: How might PEO EIS’s role change with the DOD’s strategic pivot to Asia?

Wiltsie: The PEO EIS team is heavily involved in the advance preparation to shift into the Asia-Pacific region. Our Korea Transformation program office provides and sustains the C4I systems and services for both classified and unclassified networks for U.S. Forces Korea as part of the Yongsan Relocation and Land Partnership Plan. In support of the U.S. and Republic of Korea Strategic Alliance 2015, the effort is a $500 million, multi-year program, jointly executed to relocate more than 29,000 service men and women and civilians from Yongsan and other locations to more than 600 new buildings in Humphreys.

The initiative will transform, enhance, shape and align Army efforts in the Republic of Korea. We are transforming through the establishment of new alliance warfighting command structures between the U.S. and Korea. We are enhancing [our position] through the improvement of deterrence and warfighting capabilities. We are shaping through the efforts to right-size the U.S. and Korean force structure. Finally, we are aligning through the consolidation of U.S. forces from 104 camps and stations to 2 enduring hubs, posturing U.S. forces for better peninsular and regional security and reducing operating cost.

Our support of the shift to the Pacific theater is not limited to efforts on the ground in Korea. We’re also working here, at home, to prepare our soldiers and civilians for the shift. Through our network modernization efforts, we’re working to ensure that forces are both ready when they arrive in theater and are able to connect from virtually anywhere. We have been working with our partners across the Army to facilitate joint task force operation simulations in the U.S. before deploying to better prepare them for the changing environment and establishing global connectivity to always be able to access critical information and communicate effectively.

DS: What are the major contract awards and RFPs planned for 2013 across the PEO’s various programs?

Wiltsie: The real effect of the budget uncertainty on EIS programs is in the velocity of development and deployment. We are still planning for a number of notable contract awards and RFPs slated for this year and will continue to strive to ensure the right systems are developed at the right cost to meet soldiers’ needs.

The Army Contract Writing System (ACWS) will become the Army’s single enterprise-contract writing and management system for over 8,000 users at 280 sites. The ACWS will replace the two contract writing systems currently in place and integrate the various external systems involved with the contract writing process. ACWS will provide the contract writing community with a deployable contract writing system that streamlines end-to-end contract writing processes and reduces the system operational maintenance and support costs of multiple systems and interfaces. An ACWS RFP is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of FY13.

The IPPS-A Increment II System Integration request for proposal was released on February 15. The contract will be firm fixed-price/cost plus incentive fee covering contractor support services for design, development, integration, test, training, deployment and sustainment of IPPS-A, from the transition of fielding support for Increment I through development of Increment II until attainment of full deployment.

The RCAS prime contract will provide the Army’s reserve component with - netcentric, knowledge-based information technology and business management systems, communications and infrastructure solutions.

The CHESS program will have two contract actions between FY13 and FY14. The ITES-2H extension slated for this year provides for decentralized ordering of commercial off-the-shelf RISC/EPIC servers, Windows-based servers, workstations, thin clients, desktops and notebooks (as part of a total solution), storage systems, networking equipment, network printers, cables, connectors, cabinets, video teleconferencing equipment, power supplies and related ancillary equipment. Included in this contract is also acquisition of services like system configuration and integration, physical site analysis, installation and relocation, high-availability configuration and legacy equipment warranty and maintenance. This contract is run through our CHESS office and is a great example of better buying-power success.

In FY14, the ITES-3S will be released as the follow-on the ITES-2S contract that expires in the 2015 timeframe. The ITES-2S is a $20 billion multiple-award suite of contracts that provide a full range of services and solutions necessary for the Army to satisfy its support of Army netcentric goals for IT services worldwide and the market research for the ITES-3S that is already underway.

Finally, the Communications and Transmission Systems program, part of the DCATS family of systems, will have a requirement for development of a system of systems, encompassing a broad range of communications systems and technologies, with corresponding system of systems management and administrative responsibilities. This solicitation is in source selection as we speak.

This is just a sampling of the RFPs issued and contract awards scheduled to be made this year. Depending on budget and sequestration developments, some of these may slip to the right or see a change in the amount, but these are requirements that the Army has and that we will be looking to fill. Updated contract and RFP opportunities can be tracked through FedBizOps.

DS: How can industry help in coping with budget problems, and what can you do to maintain the industrial base during a difficult period?

Wiltsie: This is a great question in light of all the changes, including curtailing conference attendance and speaking engagements. In the past, conferences have provided unique opportunities for the government and industry to get together, share challenges and solutions, explore technology, and effectively build enduring relationships between government and industry. While we are curtailing conference participation, the communication between government and industry is even more critical to our systems and to Army innovation efforts.

I want industry to bring technology to the game, and I believe that there are three great ways to do that: participation, responding to calls for technology, and information sharing. Since EIS operates in a different sphere than traditional acquisition, and the field of possibilities is almost limitless. I want to know what is out there. We’re working, in accordance with Army guidance, to put together a series of government/industry information sharing opportunities. We don’t know yet what these will look like, but soldier requirements are not going to simply disappear, and we need to continue to innovate and look today to future capabilities to be able to meet the Army’s needs of tomorrow. I want industry to participate in these forums and help shape the discussion on creative and technologically advanced ways that we can begin to meet anticipated needs.

I’d ask that industry respond to Requests for Information. We have a number of RFIs that will be hitting the street over the next year and, as we discussed, the budget uncertainty will affect velocity and speed, but not the mission. We will still need to provide the Army with the innovative solutions that will preserve our decisive edge through information technology dominance well into the future.

Finally, sharing white papers with us helps us understand what technology is out there and how we might be able to apply it to an Army challenge – whether that challenge is a capability gap or a budgetary consideration.

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