Army backs off $243M enterprise e-mail contract

After initially planning an RFP, officials are reassessing the military service's needs

The Army is putting on hold its plans to pursue an enterprise-wide e-mail system, citing the complexity of the project and the risk of a fourth-quarter contract award as reasons it has canceled plans to release a request for proposals, an Army spokesperson has confirmed.

Now, the Army is looking inward for solutions to its current e-mail system.

“The discussions on the limitations of the current e-mail architecture and how it hobbles communications have reinforced our desire to simplify the Army enterprise e-mail architecture and to reduce redundancies and cost,” an Army spokesperson said via e-mail on behalf of Mike Krieger, deputy chief information officer/G-6 . “At this time we intend to look internally to realign our e-mail architecture before proceeding on any course to contract for a managed service.”

A notice of the canceled RFP was posted to the FecBizOpps website on May 18. The contract was estimated to be worth $243 million.

“Solicitation No. W91QUZ-10-R-0013, for Enterprise E-mail and Collaboration Services (EMCS) will not be released as planned. After careful consideration of the current market for Enterprise E-mail, and a thorough review of the industry responses to the draft RFP, it has been determined that additional review is necessary to re-determine the Army's requirement for e-mail services,” the notice said.

The cancellation puts into question how the Army plans to address a long-standing need for a single e-mail system.  When a draft request for proposals was posted March 5, the Army said it planned to consolidate the various e-mail accounts for nearly 250,000 users over a two-year period in a move toward creating a managed, enterprise-wide e-mail, calendar and messaging system that could eventually serve all of the Defense Department.  

In its response to an inquiry about the status of the initiative, the Army cited "the risk of a potential fourth quarter fiscal 2010 contract award" as one of the reasons not to release the RFP in May as initially planned, the Army spokesperson said. The spokesperson did not elaborate further on that point.

Related stories:

Army e-mail consolidtion first step in enterprise efforts

Army aims for better e-mail services

The move toward enterprise-wide e-mail has long been in the works as the Army looks to modernize the force, including by streamlining its disparate communications systems. Dialog has been ongoing among stakeholders and the RFP had been anticipated as a major step forward for the Army as well as the Defense Department.

“Consolidating multiple existing e-mail systems into a single enterprise email service, for an organization as vast and complex as the Army, is unequaled within DOD or industry,” the Army spokesperson said.

“Frequent engagement with academia and our joint/industry partners has assisted us in assessing and evaluating what is best for our Army. We thank our industry partners for the engagement at Industry Day in March regarding the draft RFP.”

Still, the department insists the project isn’t dead. “The Army is continuing to explore courses of action to reduce the number of Army e-mail servers and spam filters, to maximize mission effectiveness and security, and to make best use of limited taxpayer resources,” according to the spokesperson.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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