Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: Acquisition, IT trends; Is cybersecurity awareness month still necessary?

“Inside the Reporter’s Notebook,” is a biweekly dispatch of news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is not a column nor commentary. It’s news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.

As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions, and, of course, news to me at

T he data deluge from the latest IT and acquisition forecast from the TechAmerica Foundation is overwhelming to say the least.

Having gotten a copy of the presentations from Wednesday and Thursday, there are several interesting data points worth highlighting. And by no means is this a complete picture of all the interesting government intelligence that came from a year’s worth of interviews and analysis.


Let’s start with the Defense Department.

My three takeaways:

    #1 The Joint Information Exchange has a hard road to conquer to get widespread buy-in from all military services and agencies. The goal of the JIE is to improve the sharing of information and technology capabilities and to lower the costs for these “commodity” functions across DoD. But the Navy and Marines continue to reel from the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) experience and need questions answered around governance and command and control before fully accepting the JIE. The presentation from the 49th Vision Conference stated, “JIE has wholesome objectives, but needs to be well defined from the strategic level down to the tactical warfighter.”

    #2 DoD’s thirst for cloud services may not be as strong as initially thought. The Pentagon must take some initial steps before cloud really can take hold, including data center consolidation and virtualization. The Defense Information Systems Agency is leading the data center consolidation effort by acting as the host of a relatively few mega-data centers. TechAmerica Foundation found DoD users are posing more questions about cloud computing than anything else, meaning they are not comfortable with the concept of where their data lives and how it will be protected and accessed.

    #3 IT programs will continue to get smaller. There will be more enterprise buying, and budget cuts from sequestration and the drawdown from Afghanistan will mean more competition for fewer contracting opportunities in the coming years. Solicitations and awards will continue to see delays and lowest-price, technically acceptable is growing as a popular way to buy certain types of services.

One of the best parts of TechAmerica Foundation’s forecast is solid information on upcoming procurements. Among the ones they labeled as most likely from DoD are:

  • DISA is expected to release the request for proposals for its $427 million Enterprise Storage Services II contract in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014.
  • The Army plans on issuing the RFP for its IT Enterprise Services 3 contract in the second quarter of 2014 and it could be worth $25 billion over nine years.
  • The Navy is scheduled to release a RFP for ashore and afloat networks and information engineering services in the second quarter of 2014 that could be worth $100 million.
  • The Air Force is preparing a $525 million contract for communications and technical support services in the first quarter of this year.

Now, moving to the civilian side of the government, the focus is mainly on the General Services Administration and other potential IT acquisitions.

My four takeaways:

    #1 LPTA is not just a concept that DoD is using. Civilian agencies are seeing it as “more defensible” from bid protests as well as “safe, understandable and budget friendly.” There is some concern, however, about quality of service and a lack of innovation.

    #2 Incumbent contractors are no longer a shoe-in for keeping their contract. The TechAmerica Foundation’s research shows over the last 30 months there have been as many incumbent contracts worth more than $350 million lost to a single competitor as there has been in the nine years prior to that period. Two prime examples of incumbent losses are DoD’s Global Information Grid contract that went to Lockheed Martin and away from SAIC, and the Energy Department’s $484 million award to ActioNet for its OCIO IT support services contract from Energy Enterprise Solutions LLC.

    #3 The threshold requiring a business case for new multiple award contracts drops to $50 million over the life of the contract in January. Currently, OMB set a threshold of $100 million. Agencies must submit their proposals to OMB and receive feedback from the rest of the government as a way to reduce the number of MACs. TechAmerica Foundation says two competing forces are at work. The first is the business case review process has little or no teeth from OMB. But, secondly, agencies are starting to recognize the expense to maintain an agency-specific MAC may not be worth it any longer.

    #4 Two other interesting acquisitions vendors are told to keep their eyes on: a pilot from GSA’s FEDSIM to do video oral presentations. Second, GSA’s IT solutions navigator, which aims to help agency customers decide which acquisition program makes the most sense for them.

Upcoming solicitations to keep an eye on:

    GSA has started planning for the Alliant 2 contract with a RFP release date of sometime in fiscal 2015.
  • The National Institutes of Health was planning a new RFP for its CIO Commodities and Solutions in fourth quarter of 2013. The potential $10 billion MAC hasn’t moved beyond the draft stage yet, however.
  • Transportation Department’s Federal Transit Authority project management organization support services contract that could be worth $750 million. The RFP is expected in March 2014.
  • FBI’s systems of systems refresh program is expected to come out in the fourth quarter of 2014 and be worth $100 million over five years.
  • The Transportation Security Administration plans to recompete its IT infrastructure program with a RFP release in second quarter 2014. The ITIP program could be worth $450 million over five years.

N ow that we’ve moved beyond the shutdown, several current acquisitions are trying to get back on track.

GSA announced a new due date of Oct. 30 for bids for its OASIS multiple award contract for complex professional services. The agency had suspended the bid due date during the shutdown.

NASA also announced bids are due for its SEWP V contract by Nov. 1-about a two week extension.

The Defense Intelligence Agency also announced a new date of Oct. 30 for an industry day for its E-SITE IT services program.

Additionally, TSA announced it would hold an industry day on Oct. 24 for the ITIP contract, while the House of Representatives says it revised its RFI for privileged account access management services and extended the response date to Oct. 25.

D espite the shutdown, a few chairs shifted around at GSA as well.

Bill Lewis is the new Networx Program Manager.

Frank Tiller had been the acting program manager since September 2011 when Karl Krumbholz retired. Tiller remains the acting director of Network Services.

Sources say GSA will open the director of Network Services position to competition in the coming weeks.

I t’s cybersecurity awareness month. The reaction from some cyber professionals: why?

Eugene Spafford, a computer science professor at Purdue University in Indiana, isn’t a fan of the special month. He said part of the problem with cybersecurity is the need for a month to remind the general public about how important it is to secure your computer and applications.

“If we were really focused on cybersecurity, if we really understood the problem and its magnitude, we would be focused on it all the time,” he said. “We wouldn’t need a month where we were reminding people it is important and we have big event around it. This is indicative of part of the underlying problem” of the government’s efforts to improve cybersecurity.

Michael Daniel, the White House’s cyber coordinator, took a different perspective in a blog post from Oct. 17.

Daniel said this month marks the 10th anniversary of the month-long recognition of cybersecurity to raise awareness and the like.

Daniel said the government and broader society needs to change their perspective of cybersecurity.

“Traditionally, many have argued that cyberspace has no borders and that that fact is both a strength-in terms of a free flow of information that drives the economy and supports free speech-and a weakness-in that it also allows malicious actors great freedom of movement,” he wrote. “But I would argue that such an emphasis on borders is misplaced. There are borders and boundaries everywhere in cyberspace; everywhere that networks, routers, servers, devices, and people touch the internet there are borders. Instead, what cyberspace lacks is an interior-there is really no ‘protected inside’ to a network, a space that is far away and insulated from what happens at the edge. So the very nature of cyberspace and its interconnectedness mean that everything and everyone touches an edge or a border in some fashion. This reality has profound implications for how we organize ourselves a society to protect ourselves in cyberspace-and how I carry out my role as cybersecurity coordinator. For example, in the physical world, we assign the mission of ‘border security’ to the federal government. But if everyone lives at the border in cyberspace, then it’s not physically possible to assign the ‘border security’ mission to just one group or element of our society, even the federal government. That means that everyone needs to play a part in protecting our cyber borders.”

Interesting take by Daniel — since cyberspace has no real borders, it must be a collective effort to secure computers and systems.

But someone has to lead, and many experts believe the federal government, especially Daniel’s office, needs to do a better job in both collaborating with industry and demonstrating real progress.


The Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference kicks off Monday at the Washington Convention Center and features a who’s who of senior officials, including chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, assistant chief of staff for installation management, and Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. If you are attending, look for the Federal News Radio team, including our DoD reporter Jared Serbu broadcasting live.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) holds a forum on using big data. The Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles keynotes on “How will government environmental agencies use big data?”

The House Homeland Security Committee marks up several bills Thursday, including TSA acquisition reform act and the Boots on the Ground at DHS legislation to give the agency more tools to hire cyber experts.


Oct. 4 — Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: OMB adds clarity to new cyber policy; Cyber risks during shutdown overstated; OASIS delayed indefinitely

Sept. 13– Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: FEMA to name Gardner as CIO; new DHS CIO close; NASA struggles with HSPD-12

Aug. 16 — Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: A new job for a former VA senior official; Countdown to cloud credential pilot begins Aug. 2– Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: Shining a light on GSA contract awards; Congress continues battle over E-Gov Fund

July 12– Inside the Reporter’s Notebook: DHS cyber contract awards delayed; musical chairs in federal IT ranks