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DISA plans single award for $11.7B IT contract

The Defense Information Services Agency expects to release the solicitation for a potential 10-year, $11.7 billion IT support contract by the end of September with an award expected in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2021.

Defense Enclave Services will be another multi-billion dollar vehicle with a single winner, following the pattern set by the JEDI cloud infrastructure and DEOS back office tools contracts. Both of those have been delayed by bid protests and corrective actions.

DES will provide a variety of services to support what DISA calls “common use IT.” Those include network access, application and hosting, message and directory services, end-user support, storage, video, IT services management, and cybersecurity.

DISA wants to both consolidate and take over these responsibilities from other defense agencies. Mission IT will remain the responsibility of the individual agencies.

The contract is part of an ongoing IT reform effort by DISA as they agency want to move all defense agencies outside of the service branches to a single network named DoDNET, which DISA will operate.

In all, those 22 "Fourth Estate" defense agencies will move to DoDNET. An initial group of agencies is already migrating and the majority will move as part of the DES vehicle, Air Force Col. Chris Autrey said during a virtual industry day on Aug. 20. Autrey is the program manager for DES.

Those 22 agencies have more than 400,000 users at more than 800 locations.

A transcript and slides from the virtual industry day are available through Beta.Sam.Gov.

DISA said it needs DES for several reasons, particularly cybersecurity threats that have become more sophisticated. DISA also wants to eliminate unnecessary complexity and control costs.

Solicitation documents indicate the contract will be used for both migration to a new environment and optimization through applications and tools, technical refresh, and other innovations.

If the solicitation comes out as expected in late September, proposals will likely be due in the December 2020 timeframe. An award would then be about one year later.

Don't surprised if there are protests in the lead-up to the award.

DISA will use a two-phase approach to pick a winner. Phase one sees a bidder having to pass four acceptable/unacceptable factors: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, Network Engineering, Staffing and Small Business Participation. One unacceptable rating will kick a bidder out of the competition.

It's worth noting that this contract requires a Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification to bid. In phase two, the bids will be evaluated on technical/management, past performance, and price/cost factors. The non-price factors, combined, will be equal to the price factor. DISA plans to use a best-value trade off criteria to pick the final winner.

For the proposals, bidders will have to respond to a task order requirement that covers five agencies, 20,000 users, 81 global sites and 40,000 end points. The five agencies are Defense Media Activity, Defense Technical Information Center, DISA, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and Defense Microelectronics Activity.

Some areas DISA will evaluate include transition planning and management, migration support and network support and operations. DISA also will look for tools to improve network operations and streamline support processes.

The small business requirement will be a big factor in this procurement. We’ll explore more of those expectations in an upcoming post.

Given its size and specs, DES will likely be a hotly contested contract and I expect most of the big names to pursue it. Leidos, General Dynamics IT, and Perspecta come to mind first. That group of three was the field for the Navy's NGEN network services contract and DISA's GSM-O information grid award.

But don’t be surprised to see IBM, CACI International, Science Applications International Corp. and others in the hunt as well.

This article first appeared on Washington Technology, a Defense Systems partner site.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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