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DISA asking if HUBzone firms could take over network monitoring duties

The Defense Information Systems Agency has kicked off the recompete process for a contract to monitor traffic on secure and unclassified networks.

And a question DISA is asking in a new sources sought notice might pose a challenge to the incumbent contractor.

Known as "Acropolis," the contract has been held by Northrop Grumman since the system of network sensors was put into place in 2009. Northrop won the current version of Acropolis in 2015. That four-year contract has a ceiling value of $73.6 million, according to the company.

But in this Aug. 15 request for information, DISA asks whether any HUBzone small businesses can provide the required products and services. If at least two qualify under the RFI, Northrop will likely lose its shot at continuing as the prime contractor.

Acropolis 3.0, as it is being called, will be competed under one of several large IDIQ contracts although the exact one remains undecided. The current version was competed under the Encore II vehicle.

Acropolis was developed for Defense Cyber Operations analysts at the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Branch, out of which the analysts monitor and protect the Defense Information Network.

“Work performed on this contract is intended to support a broad range of high-quality technical, engineering, operational, sustainment and management functions and requires day-to-day 24x7x365 operations and maintenance labor on all hardware, processes, data, applications, databases, networks, sensors, sensor feeds, analytical tools and capabilities included within the Acropolis program’s mission space,” DISA writes in the RFI.

Acropolis was created by DISA and the National Security Agency to protect the Global Information Grid. Acropolis provides users a global view of traffic on NIPRNet for unclassified data and SIPRNet for classified data.

The system collects terabytes of data each day from alerts, logs and other sources via sensors and systems located throughout the network. The data feeds into cloud-based tools that the cyber analysts use.

There are several required capabilities. These include:

  • Develop a new architecture for Acropolis that can blend current DOD-owned and operate infrastructure with cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service.
  • Develop a tactical edge solution using open source software that will let the warfighter leverage Acropolis capabilities, even in areas with limited or no connectivity to DODIN.
  • Facilitate transition to a hybrid cloud architecture.
  • Introduce machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities.
  • Expand use of commercial technologies.

Obviously, any bidder must meet security clearance of requirements through the Top Secret level.

For the contract to be converted to a HUBzone or other small business set aside, the so-called "Rule of Two" applies. At least two HUBzone businesses must submit information in response to the RFI that shows they are capable of doing the work.

If two companies are found to be capable, then the competition will be a small business set-aside.

Northrop would likely join a small business bidder as a major teammate. But we’ll have to wait and see if that happens. The RFI does describe a pretty high bar for a HUBzone to clear.

Responses to the RFI are due Aug. 29.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 15, 2018 at 9:59 AM

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