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CHIPS Articles: Information Technology Acquisition Approval Process

Information Technology Acquisition Approval Process
By Capt. Scott J. Hoffman, SPAWAR Deputy Director for Contracts - October-December 2012
The Navy buys several billion dollars of non-weapon system and non-C4ISR system IT and IT support services each year. “Several” is the key word because we did not have service-wide visibility of Navy IT purchases. This lack of visibility hindered our ability to make capability-based, cost-effective procurement decisions. To address this issue, CNO and ASN RDA signed a joint letter in October of 2011 that designated SPAWAR as the Navy’s single IT procurement approval and oversight authority for command and control, information and IT.

This new single collection point, and the review process developed around it, gives the Navy visibility to make informed decisions on IT procurement to optimize technical approach, alignment, savings and overall performance.

The technical perspective is a crucial element of the review. A technical review of procurement determines if the request meets Navy standards to minimize the danger of one-off, nonstandard purchases that may not be compatible with other Navy systems in terms of capability, operation or security. An incompatible system adds risk to our networks and additional long-term sustainment costs.

Additionally, the volume of Navy IT purchases gives us tremendous buying power. However, this advantage can be negated if we make stand-alone, uncoordinated purchases. Strategic sourcing and maximizing the use of competitive contract vehicles brings the best long-term value to all Navy users.

These reviews also identify redundancy or unused capacity issues. A special case, but a good illustration, is data storage. Procuring additional data storage locally while the Navy-enterprise already has significant unused capacity on servers at existing data centers is not an effective use of limited funding. Uncoordinated IT procurements are likewise not an effective or efficient use of resources. ITAAP, the Information Technology Acquisition Approval Process, is designed to give the Navy the visibility necessary to optimize our IT resources.

ITAAP uses the Web-based Navy Information Dominance Approval System (NAV-IDAS) to funnel IT Procurement Requests (ITPRs) from the Echelon II CIO to OPNAV N2/N6. OPNAV N2/N6 is the IT Expenditure Approval Authority (ITEAA). As the ITEAA, OPNAV N2/N6 determines if the proposed procurement is something the Navy should invest in given limited resources and the overall information dominance strategy. If the answer is “yes,” the ITPR flows to the SPAWAR Chief Engineer for a review of the technical approach. Next is an acquisition review by SPAWAR Contracts to review the acquisition approach to drive toward economies of scale while not suboptimizing other goal performances.

For those commands not yet on NAV-IDAS, requests for technical and acquisition review should be submitted via email to SPAWAR.IT.REVIEW.FCM@NAVY.MIL in those cases where procurements are equal to or greater than $500,000. On purchases less than $500,000, an information copy spreadsheet of monthly consolidated ITPRs are sent to SPAWAR. We expect email submissions will not be necessary once NAV-IDAS is implemented across the Navy.

SPAWAR has tech reviewed 9,355 line items from 14,800 ITPRs valued at $3.3 billion. This includes all manual ITPRs, NAV-IDAS submissions and consolidated spreadsheets. To date, 70 ITPRs valued at $5.7 million have been disapproved. All numbers are cumulative for FY12 to date. Ultimately, the visibility and insight we continue to gain into Navy IT expenditures will support strategic sourcing on IT procurements — ensuring service-wide alignment, technical approach and efficiency.

To view Commander SPAWAR message R 01023Z DEC 11 ZYB, “Information Technology Aquisition Approval Process (ITAAP)” go to: APPROVAL_AND_OVERSIGHT.aspx.

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Capt. Scott J. Hoffman
Capt. Scott J. Hoffman
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