Dialing up dollars

Army telecom modernization effort carries $4B payday

Here's the deal

Contract: Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD)

Agency: Army

Description: The contract supports the telecom switch modernization effort of the Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program. IMOD will integrate voice, data, inside and outside cable plant and transmission products and services into one integrated communications systems for Army bases and installations worldwide. The contract also includes site preparation and initial logistics support, including training, spares and warranties.

Value: $4 billion over five years with one five-year option

Acquisition type: Up to eight contractors will win awards, with at least two awards to small businesses

RFP released: Nov. 4

Proposals due: Dec. 14

Award date: April 27

At $4 billion, the Infrastructure Modernization program is one of the biggest Army opportunities of 2006 ? and one of the biggest federal government telecommunications awards as well.

The IMOD program contract will modernize fiber-optic cable and wireless communications lines at major Army bases and installations worldwide. The contract is for five years with one five-year option.

As many as eight multiple-award contracts, including up to two for small businesses, will be issued under IMOD in April.

"It's the Army's chance to upgrade the facilities with the latest technology [and] the best solutions that create the most value," said Daniel Bigbie, vice president of business development for government solutions at Lucent Technologies Inc. "Then, more importantly, they'll be able to make sure that their critical mission is supported."

His company holds a prime contract under IMOD's predecessor, the Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program (DSSMP) contract, and plans to bid on IMOD to continue its work for the Army.

IMOD will be crucial in helping the Army and the rest of the Defense Department move to a voice over IP environment over the next few years, industry observers said.

"We're going to see a transformation at just about every base and military installation around the country from the circuit-switched technology to VoIP," said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc., Jenkintown, Pa. IMOD "is going to be one of the enabling contracts to support this technological transformation."

Although the Defense Department has invested heavily in bandwidth, IMOD will let it save money by reducing duplication of services as well as improving feature functionalities of command and control and administrative systems, Suss said.

The performance-based IMOD contract supports the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program (I3MP), a collection of voice, data, cable, long-distance gateway and enterprise management services to modernize the core enterprise information infrastructure at Army installations worldwide. I3MP uses commercial products to replace its old, costly legacy systems with a secure and integrated information system.

IMOD will replace the $1 billion DSSMP contract, awarded in June 1997 and comprising 18 contracts held by 17 vendors. That contract provides telecom supplies, installations and support for government and military organizations worldwide. It offers switching and networking technologies, installation and support services, logistics support and total project management.

IMOD will feature IT services, storage area networks, options for leasing, information assurance, secure wireless solutions and cybernet applications, said Steve Coughlan, senior director of the Army infrastructure services group at General Dynamics Network Systems Inc., and Mark Robson, director of business development for Army services.

Needham Heights, Mass.-based General Dynamics Network Systems, which provides systems integration and data networking services, holds a DSSMP contract and will bid on IMOD as a prime contractor.

Other Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program contract holders include Amstar Communications Corp., Dynamic Concepts Inc., Engineering & Professional Services Inc., Executive Security & Engineering Tech Inc., Gstek Inc., Halifax Corp., Harris Corp., NextiraOne Federal LLC, Northrop Grumman IT, Sherikon Inc., Siemens Corp., Southwestern Bell Corp., Telecom Italia SpA, TechDyn Systems Corp. and Verizon Federal Inc. Some of these companies have been acquired or merged with other companies since DSSMP was awarded.

Industry observers said they expect bids on the IMOD contract from all DSSMP incumbents as well as a few other new companies that want to gain a foothold in Army telecom infrastructure programs.

But Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer of Federal Sources Inc., said that larger companies might not chase the contract, because it has a lot of low-margin work, such as building communications towers or substations on bases.

The military services are beginning several big IT projects as part of the Defense Department's modernization and transformation program, of which IMOD is a part. Other big Army telecom contracts to be awarded in 2006 are for the $20 billion Information Technology Enterprise Solutions 2 Services and the $5 billion Worldwide Satellite Systems Program.

IMOD's request for proposals was released Nov. 4, a few months later than the planned June 30 issuance date. Interested vendors have until Dec. 14 to submit their proposals. Awards were expected Dec. 15, but now are estimated to come April 27. DSSMP expires June 30.

Industry experts were divided on the question of whether the procurement would be further delayed. Bigbie of Lucent said another holdup was possible as the Army tries to juggle changes in base assignments and selections, the war in Iraq and other hot spots and budget dynamics.

Dan Braun, a consultant at Suss Consulting who specializes in Army telecom and IT programs, expects IMOD to meet its award date.

"The Army has an impetus to ensure this contract is awarded and ready to be used for orders upon the expiration of DSSMP," he said. "The timing being what it is with the restationing of forces from overseas and the Base Realignment and Closure program ... this contract must be available so that the infrastructure can be modernized."

Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin can be reached at rgerin@postnewsweektech.com.

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