WT Industry Day: Inside the Defense Department's IT opportunities
- By Mark Hoover
- Jul 23, 2015
In the second of our series of Washington Technology Industry Days, we take deep dive into the IT priorities, opportunities and procurement culture of the Defense Department.
We had representatives this morning from some of the Defense Department's major bureaus, and each government executive emphasized a desire to partner effectively with contractors. Each also highlighted opportunities for contractors to keep their eyes on in the near future.
Our next industry day will focus on the Health and Human Services Department on Sept. 2, 2015.
DOD OPENING REMARKS
A theme of Washington Technology’s Defense Department Industry Day was that partnership right now between agencies and industry is unlike anything that has been seen before, said David Cotton, deputy chief information officer for Information Enterprise at the Defense Department.
The Defense Department’s areas of focus right now are on the Joint Regional Security Stacks, cloud computing and data center consolidation, mission partners, mobility and cyber basics, Cotton said.
The department is also looking to focus on areas of modernization, including collaboration with industry on cloud computing and becoming platform agnostic in terms of mobile computing. The Defense Department is also focused more on cybersecurity right now than ever before, Cotton said.
Industry is advised to help the Defense Department meet its goals by helping the department communicate, drive cultural change and help the department focus.
The Army is relying on industry to challenge the agency and help bring it commercial solutions, said Hari Bezwada, chief information officer, Program Executive Office, Army Enterprise Information Systems.
Bezwada told the audience that while every contracting opportunity is pushed out through the FedBizOpps website, it is still up to contractors to do their homework because if they wait until they see the opportunity on the FBO website, it may be too late to get in on the bottom floor, he said.
The Army is also looking for data management and thinks contractors will be helpful in this area. “We’re running big billion dollar programs, but the data is not as big,” Bezwada said.
Bezwada also encouraged companies to research the different contracting centers that the Army PEO EIS has across the country. “It’s important to find out which ones you want to tackle,” he said.
DISA understands how important industry is to helping the agency meet their goals. “We need industry because they are an integral part to what we’re doing,” said Jessie Showers, infrastructure executive, Implementation and Sustainment Center, Defense Information Systems Agency.
DISA is also focused on evolving in order to meet the challenges that come along with mission partners, budgetary constraints, cybersecurity, and the Defense Department’s joint information environment.
“We’ve had to evolve from a circuit based organization to an IT-based organization,” Showers said.
DISA’s focus areas include cybersecurity and situational awareness, moving workloads to the cloud, collaboration and unified capabilities, and command and control and consolidation of devices, Showers said.
“We need you to help us see how we control cyber in that kind of environment when everyone is connected,” he added.
In order to work with industry, however, DISA will be focused on low cost. This does not mean lowest price technically acceptable contracts, Showers said. DISA wants to work with contractors to make sure they are getting an affordable solution that is low cost for them but also profitable for contractors.
DISA also wants to consolidate its help desks into a single-service desk.
The bottom line is, Showers said, DISA is looking for solutions that can be integrated into their systems and for solutions that have security built into them.
Showers also reminded contractors that the ENCORE III request for proposals is due out this month.
THE SMALL BUSINESS LANDSCAPE
The Defense Department has been meeting its small business goals in the past year, and intends to continue to do so, said Carol White, deputy director, Air Force Small Business Programs.
The department’s initiatives going forward are on keeping priority programs on track, improving relationships and transparency and building on the Better Buying Power initiative, said Dave Dawson, associate director for Small Business Programs, United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps Systems Command.
The easiest way to do business as a small business with Dawson’s agency, he said, is through SeaPort-e, NASA’s SEWP V, GSA Schedules, GSA STARS II, and small business set-aside contracts.
Dawson emphasized doing business through the SEWP V contract.
“The Marine Corps Systems Command is utilizing NASA SEWP V and setting aside for small business a lot of our IT requirements using our NASA SEWP V contract. If you are not a NASA SEWP V holder, then you can team and work with the NASA SEWP primes that are on V and have your products added to their schedules within days,” Dawson said.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency wants to do business with your company, and a key is responding to their market research requests, said Sandra Broadnax, director of small business, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Another key to doing business with NGA is being open about what work your company is doing at other defense agencies.
“If you want to do business with NGA, tell us what else you’re doing,” Broadnax said. “We can leverage off that contract that you have at another agency.”
You might have a capability at the Air Force, Broadnax said as an example, that might not help NGA at the moment, but could help the agency in the future.
Broadnax also mentioned the GEO-INT solutions marketplace which contractors can submit white papers through online.
DOD BUDGET AND OPPORTUNITY ANALYSIS
Deltek’s budget analysis shows that Defense IT spending has been increasing over the past few years, with defense IT spending making up 12.7 percent of the overall budget in 2012, 13.1 percent in 2013, and 13.9 percent in 2014.
There have been changes as to what the Defense Department is spending its IT budget money on, though, said Kevin Plexico, vice president, Information Solutions at Deltek. Communications and services spending have declined from 2013 to 2014 by around $1 billion and $2.5 billion respectively. Equipment and software spending have both risen moderately from 2013 to 2014 by around $1 billion.
“Software is remarkably stable, and in fact, increasing despite the declines we’ve seen in other areas. They’re still continuing investment in IT, so think about things like cybersecurity—obviously very software intensive—a lot of data center management tools that are coming to bear to allow the scale to grow,” Plexico said.
Deltek’s market research shows also that September continues to be a month of heavy government spending. “September is really something special when it comes to how much money they spend,” Plexico said.
His best advice is for companies, especially those in the equipment space, to have that quote you sent the department months ago and send it back. Agencies are thinking about how they’re going to spend the remaining money, so Plexico said that companies are wise to do what they can to be front of mind for agencies.
Contracts to be on the lookout for are:
DISA ENCORE III ($12 billion)
Army ITES-3S ($12 billion)
DHA DHITS GEN I ($10 billion)
Army ADMC-3 ($5 billion)
Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.