Field narrows for ITES
- By Patience Wait
- May 08, 2003
Army releases RFP, identifies 22 'viable' bidders for major program
Maj. Gen. Steven Boutelle identified ITES as one of the major contracts in the Army's implementation of standardized solutions in a net-centric enterprise.
The much-anticipated request for proposals for the Army's $800 million Information Technology Enterprise Solutions contract was released early this month after several weeks of delay.
The Army narrowed the field to 22 likely competitors, which have been sent "viability" letters encouraging them to bid on the ITES contract. The letters, sent Feb. 19, said capability statements the companies submitted in January demonstrated their ability as bidders on the contract.
A list of the companies that received letters was released May 2 with the RFP. Among them are Electronic Data Systems Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Unisys Corp. Awards are expected in July.
The contract is divided into two functional areas, each with a $400 million ceiling. The Army encouraged nine companies to bid on the enterprise hardware and software portion of the contract, and 13 to pursue the enterprise mission support services area. Several companies qualified in both areas.
The Army expects to select five prime contractors for each functional area, including one small business in the hardware area and two small firms in the services area, said Lee Harvey, special assistant to the program executive for enterprise information systems.
ITES is just one program for which the program executive is responsible, but its visibility is high, Harvey said. The contract makes up a key part of the Army Knowledge Management transformation plan and will help move the Army toward an enterprisewide architecture.
Some firms got letters discouraging them from pursuing ITES. "We don't think you have a good chance of success, and we suggest you spend your [bid money] somewhere else," was the message in those letters, Harvey said. He did not say how many were sent.
Receiving a negative letter does not eliminate those companies' right to bid, Harvey said, and some firms may submit stronger proposals because their initial ones were shot down. This is the first time the Army has issued these kinds of letters, he said.
ITES is an enterprisewide vehicle to help Army offices move toward a standardized IT environment. Individual offices can issue their own task orders, allowing as much flexibility as possible.
The services component of the contract also allows the Army to decide how much of its support services, including project management, training, help desk and other functions, to outsource or to keep in-house.
The ITES contract is "one of the tools in the tool box for getting [the Army] to enterprise-level knowledge management," said Col. Wellsford Barlow, deputy program executive for enterprise information systems. It is the first contract that attempts to centralize management and execution of IT investments for the service.
The contract brings together the Army CIO, Program Executive Office of Enterprise Information Systems, Network Enterprise Technology Command and the IT, E-Commerce and Commercial Contracting Center (ITEC4) as the contract management organization, he said.
Maj. Gen. Steven Boutelle, director for information operations, networks and space, and nominated to replace Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello as the Army Chief Information Officer, identified ITES as one of the major contracts in the Army's implementation of standardized solutions in a net-centric enterprise. Cuviello will retire at the end of June.
The ITES contract is a successor to the 5-year-old Army Corporate Enterprise Solutions contract. All four incumbents on that contract, Computer Sciences Corp., EDS, IBM Corp. and Unisys, received viability letters.
The ITES RFP was scheduled for release more than a month ago, but slipped to May 2 mostly because of the war, said Tim Bashara, director of secure information systems for Raytheon Co. Raytheon is seeking a subcontracting role with three prospective bidders.
"ITES is really more powerful" than the Army Corporate Enterprise Solutions contract, he said, because it includes technologies that were not in the earlier contract, such as video teleconferencing, and an emphasis on information assurance. It also provides a whole range of service levels from which Army buyers can choose.
Harvey said a key point in ITES is that it allows a single vendor to provide desktop equipment and the applications to go with it. "This way we don't have finger-pointing" over responsibilities, he said.
Linda Allan, executive vice president of strategic programs for NCI Information Systems Inc., said ITES provides the flexibility to allow each Army component to map out its own path toward compliance with the planned enterprise architecture.
NCI is pursuing one of the small-business awards on the services portion of ITES. Based in McLean, Va., the company has about 1,400 employees -- the Army's small-business size cutoff is 1,500 employees -- and annual revenue of about $138 million, almost all of it from federal agencies and systems integrators in the government sector.
All of the Defense Department agencies are looking at outsourcing, just as civilian agencies are, Allan said.
"The Army is considering what functions they want to move warfighters out of and move to private contractors. We believe this contract will be the vehicle to do that," Allan said.
Raytheon is pursuing a very different strategy with ITES. Rather than bidding as a prime contractor, the company has teamed with three prospective primes: Dell Computer Corp. for a spot on the hardware side, Electronic Data Systems Corp. for a large-company spot on the services side, and Telos Corp. for a small-company services award.
"We hope we win all three," Bashara said. "All three primes we've selected are excellent candidates for awards."
Raytheon's core contribution is in information assurance, he said.
According to Harvey, ITES will be a performance-based contract with performance metrics negotiated separately for each task order. In the services functional area in particular, the Army is not going to specify the performance measures, he said.
"We're telling them what our objectives are, and they'll come back in and tell us" what they propose in their responses, Harvey said. "Some measures will be negotiated when the task orders are initiated." *
Staff Writer Patience Wait can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.