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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Army sees early protests over plan to overhaul communication systems

A heavyweight in the world of communications and telephony is complaining that the solicitation for a new Army phone system is unfairly restricting competition.

Cisco Systems has filed a pre-award protest of an Army contract as Unified Capabilities Soft Client Subscription Services. A woman-owned business, Alliance Technology Group, also has filed a protest complaining of the same issues.

Neither the company nor the Army responded to requests for comment.

According to solicitation documents, the Army wants to move away from the stove-piped systems it uses currently to provide voice, video and data services to over 1 million people at its bases, posts and stations world-wide.

Currently, there is a mixture of old and new technologies. Because of the disparate systems and technologies, the Army is complaining about limits on operational effectiveness, cost inefficiencies and an inability to leverage IT advances.

The Army wants a subscription service that will provide integrated voice, video, instant messaging/chat, presence and screen sharing. They want to move to a system that is software-defined. There will be 900,000 non-classified users and 100,000 classified users.

The contract will be for one-year with a four one-year options.

The Army will consider solutions that are on premise at the Army, at other government facilities or off-premise at a contractor-provider facility. But all the hosting will be on contractor-owned, contractor operated systems.

This is a new contract, so there is no incumbent, but given the description of multiple networks and systems scattered around, there are likely many existing contracts that are being rolled into this one.

The Army is using a two-phase competition. Bidders must first be deemed “acceptable” in phase 1 and then will be evaluated on a best-value basis in phase 2. Phase 2 factors include technical, past performance, small business participation and price.

There is no estimated value posted yet for this contract, but given the scope described in the solicitation, it’ll likely carry prestige beyond the price.

The Army cannot award the contract when the protests are pending, but given the protests were filed the day proposals were due, the GAO will have its decision before the Army is ready to make an award. The GAO ruling is expected April 24.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 17, 2017 at 9:37 AM

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