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CHIPS Articles: DISA moving full speed to modernize DoD telecommunication services

DISA moving full speed to modernize DoD telecommunication services
By Christina Severino, DISA Telecommunications Contracting Division - December 4, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped or slowed down the Defense Information Systems Agency from transitioning off of legacy General Services Administration Networx contracts, while modernizing technologies previously supported by those contract vehicles.

DISA’s Defense Information Technology Contract Organization is leading this transition for the entire Department of Defense. To meet the Office of Management and Budget's Category Management initiatives to effectively manage contract spending, DITCO is maximizing use of GSA’s Best in Class Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract to replace these legacy contracts.

Off-boarding Networx services involves structuring state-of-the-art solutions to advance the modernization strategy of the 2017 Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization, while also eliminating legacy technologies driven by the Chief Information Office’s Department of Defense Digital Modernization Strategy.

DISA continues to make great progress. The agency is optimistic that industry partners can continue to support the rapid pace to transition to modernized performance-based solution orders despite challenges resulting from COVID-19. DISA is also transitioning mission partners’ telecommunications requirements under legacy Networx contracts for data and voice onto the DISA Information Systems Network, removing the need for commercial leases, and thus providing increased security and saving significant dollars.

This transition is also overhauling most Networx, WITS-3 and regional local service agreement services from individual circuits into one solution-based order per specialized program. The award of these EIS solution task orders is nearing completion. Out of 52 task orders, 29 have been awarded at substantial cost avoidance, with 21 shifting to the new technical paradigm focused on modernization and enhanced services. Of the remaining orders to be awarded, 16 are in evaluations, four are awaiting industry proposals and three are being prepared for release to industry.

Unlike previous transitions, this is a very complex effort. EIS invokes an entirely new business strategy. Competitive best value task orders are being used to consolidate services and quantities, which will provide DoD with better services at a better price point. DoD focused on performance based solutions at the outset, moving away from a vast number of individual direct awards, which has enhanced competition and driven down costs. It does result in a much more complicated and time-consuming procurement process.

However, according to Douglas Packard, DISA’s Procurement Services Executive who serves as the department’s executive agent for the transition, the time spent in the acquisition planning and execution phases is well worth it.

“The results are extremely positive and reflect the department’s commitment to modernization,” Packard said. “While it would have been easy to move quickly and simply procure the same services under EIS, warfighters deserves the best with solutions that support them well into the future. The DITCO team has done a fantastic job, and I would be remiss to not thank GSA for its willingness to accommodate unique processes critical to our success. Teamwork.”

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