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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Has the Army outmaneuvered OMB with its $5B ADMC 3 contract?

The Army says it has tried to follow the Office of Management and Budget guidance and shift its computer hardware buying to the NASA SEWP V contract rather than its own vehicle.

But the service also claims that delays because of the protests of the SEWP V contract – which were resolved a year ago – and its own delays caused by moving from the contracting authority to another make it impossible for it to move to SEWP V.

They’ve decided to move forward with Army Desktop and Mobile Computing 3 contract. A draft solicitation was released earlier this year.

This week, they released a justification document for extending the ADMC 2 through October 2017 and adding another $675 million to the ceiling bring the total value of the contract to $5.75 billion. The extensions went to the eight ADMC 2 primes: Telos, Dell, CDW-G, HP, ITG, Transource, Emtec and NCS.

The decision to stick with its own contract instead of SEWP V isn’t new, as the draft RFP has been out for some time, but the justification document offers some interesting insights into how they made that decision.

First, there is the timeline. The Army rejected SEWP V at the end of 2014. The justification document describes it as “late first quarter FY 2015.” If the Army had hung on for just another three months, the protest issues would have been resolved. NASA made new awards in March 2015, and the contract has been rolling along ever since.

But the Army had abandoned SEWP V claiming that the protest delays were problematic so they couldn’t use SEWP.

As I said, by March 2015 everything was resolved, but it was still another nine months before the Army released the draft solicitation for ADMC 3 in January 2016.

Shouldn't nine months have been enough time to shift gears and go back to NASA SEWP?

The Army’s PC and mobile computing needs aren’t that unique are they? Are the Army requirements that much of a so-called snowflake?

The second reason the Army cites was delays caused by its own internal changes. It moved the contracting authority from the Army Contracting Command – National Capital Region to the Army Contracting Command in Rock Island, Ill.

“Some administrative delays occurred as contracting personnel were brought up to speed on newly acquired contracts, with a huge amount of documentation transferred and assimilated,” the Army wrote in the document.

So, when did this critical shift in responsibility occur? Six months ago? A year ago? Try fiscal 2013. No matter how you measure it, that was more than two years ago.

I know change is hard and slow in the government, but it seems the Army had plenty of time to follow the OMB guidance and standardize its PC and laptop buying through SEWP.

Of course, the Army might have other reasons, but the justification document is so heavily redacted that it is hard to figure them out. At one point, they even blacked out the names of the contractors getting the extension, although they are listed later in the document.

They do mention that they didn't think that SEWP could not meet the reporting requirements needed by OMB, but that's just one line in the document.

The ADMC contract is part of the Army’s Consolidated Buy program, which the Army is using to standardize IT buying and meets OMB’s directive. The Army expects to save $445.7 million in cost avoidance through this program.

So, I don’t think the Army is trying to get around the idea of reducing costs and becoming more efficient, but it sure seems like they jumped at the first chance they got to hang onto a contract vehicle of their very own.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:27 AM

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