The US Army Corps, one of the world’s biggest investors in technology with a requested IT budget of $5.4bn for 2005 is aiming to simplify its procurement process by setting up a single contract vehicle.
Will Berrios, the CIO of the US Army, said the Corps currently has 972 contracts for IT services, and would like to have them managed by a central procurement unit. Many of these deals are signed and managed by eight regional centers, having previously been managed at a district level.
Linda Nguyen, analyst at government technology research company Input Inc, told ComputerWire: It is not possible for one unit to procure everything, but it is useful to have central contract vehicles such as ITES [Information Technology Enterprise Solutions – an army procurement vehicle for IT infrastructure]. It gives everyone access to the same list of vendors and ensures that one army base is not buying laptops or PDAs that are inoperable with the equipment bought by another base.
ITES handed out IT services contracts valued at a total of $500m to five prime contractors last October. Through the deals being run through ITES, IBM, Lockheed Martin, NCI Information Systems, Northrop Grumman and QSS Inc will manage suppliers and perform IT services for the Army over the next three years, with two options to extend the deals for a further two years. The deal will involve the five suppliers providing program management, enterprise IT policy and planning, enterprise design, integration and consolidation, information assurance, business process re-engineering and requirements analysis.
Berrios’ plans reflect other recent moves towards consolidating procurement processes in federal US government. Last month, the government’s main procurement body, the General Services Administration, proposed a $150bn vehicle called Alliant to replace six current programs: Millennia, ANSWER, Safeguard, Virtual Data Center, ACES and Disaster Recovery, with the aim of reducing waste by removing overlapping services provided by multiple contract vehicles.
Nguyen said that the war in Iraq has also encouraged the army to streamline its procurement function: It made them realize that they had to ensure they can get the right technology sent out to soldiers in the field as soon as possible. In his budget plan for 2005, President Bush requested an estimated $5.4bn for IT infrastructure and services for the army, which Nguyen said is down from a level of $5.6bn in 2004.
This decline will hit IT services providers such as Computer Sciences Corp and Lockheed Martin Information Technology, but both are aiming to win a share of major IT infrastructure overhauls planned by the armed forces in Germany and the UK. CSC’s CFO Leon Level said last year that he expects to wrap up a 6.5bn euros ($8.2bn) deal with the German army by the end of March 2004 after a period of negotiations stretching back to June 2002. Meanwhile, the UK Armed Forces put out to tender a contract in April 2003 worth a possible 2bn pounds ($3.7bn) to replace more than 100 systems that are currently managed in-house.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire