Army kicks off round 2 of 'DCGS' intell system competition

Palantir celebrated an initial victory in late March when the Silicon Valley tech firm won the first task order for work to support the Army’s main system for gathering intelligence in the battlefield.

As well-documented by us and others, Palantir’s journey to even get the right to bid for any piece of the Distributed Common Ground System-Army was a long and winding road that ended up in the courts.

Eventually, the Army decided last year to make two awards after Palantir won a favorable ruling in Court of Federal Claims. Palantir and Raytheon are going head-to-head for task orders in a program that illustrates the Army’s path of exploring commercial technologies.

That was merely round one. A July 18 solicitation from the Army gives notice for competitors to get their bids ready for round two, more formally called “Capability Drop 2: Data Fabric and Analytics.”

And unlike the first task order, this new opportunity now on the street has an official ceiling: $832 million.

Capability Drop 2 focuses on upgrades and replacements of components found in what is referred to as the DCGS-A system’s “brain.” Those new tools are intended to dynamically take in live data from more than one source at a time and lay it out against different models to operate with open interfaces.

The request for proposals specifically says CD 2’s goal is to address the Army’s “need for a commercial solution that incorporates current industry approaches to enable centralized data receipt, processing, refinement, management, storage, and access.”

DCGS-A can easily be seen as a showpiece program that pits a nontraditional contractor in Palantir against a blue chip defense company like Raytheon.

But Palantir has long been in the federal market game given it received an investment from the intelligence community’s venture capital arm In-Q-Tel shortly after the company’s 2003 founding and has since won business with many IC agencies, plus the National Institutes of Health more recently.

Raytheon and particularly its services business has been on a path of transition in recent years to incorporate more commercial technologies and partnerships with companies in that part of the market.

The idea behind those collaborations is to blend emerging tools those firms create with Raytheon makes in-house, along with the defense contractor’s specialized services.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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