Large DISA contract is coming sooner than expected

A major contract offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency will be awarded sooner than expected and change the way it treats small businesses.

DISA Director Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn said during a Nov. 10 speech that his agency is planning on awarding the successor to the $12 billion IT ENCORE II contract earlier than fiscal 2018.

Lynn also noted that ENCORE II held some problems for small businesses that were successful under the contract. Since ENCORE contracts usually last 10 years, some small businesses eventually graduate to larger sizes during that time. Lynn said he was working to fix that problem in the ENCORE III contract.

“If you were really good as a small business you got bumped up and you were no longer a small business,” Lynn said during an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association breakfast in Arlington. “I wanted to design something into ENCORE III that if you are a small business going in you can still compete if you break that small business barrier.”

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Lynn did not offer any more details on how he would accomplish that.

ENCORE contracts are multiple award agreements that cover all activities within the military services and the Defense Department. The contract provides cybersecurity, web-scale IT, cloud-based disaster recovery and other IT services.

DISA awarded ENCORE II to 26 vendors in 2008. The contract is good through the end of May 2018.

DISA issued a sources sought on ENCORE III in August.

“There has been a reduction in the number of small businesses we can access on that vehicle,” Jennifer Carter, DISA’s acquisition executive, said in August. “So one of the things we’re looking at is making sure there are opportunities for small businesses and the ability to access large businesses where that’s appropriate. We also need to make sure we’re optimizing competition for the life of the contract, and if the life is long, we need to keep pace as small businesses evolve into large ones and as new small businesses come on the scene. If we don’t make sure there’s an opportunity for an on-ramp, we’re essentially locking ourselves out of some capabilities and getting behind the market. The approach on Encore II hasn’t been everything we’d intended for providing those opportunities.”

Lynn also outlined two areas where industry can help DISA and where the agency will be investing in the future.

Lynn said software defined networks were one high priority.

“If you can imagine a network that is virtualized that you can build up, move applications over to and move clients over to, and then drop that network and split up another one and do it periodically,” Lynn said. “Now you have an adversary that is trying to get into a network that just dropped. It’s hard to be persistent on a network if you have a software defined network that’s changing all the time.”

Lynn said that in his role as director of Joint Force Headquarters DoD Information Network he needs analytics from industry.

“Getting the analytics to help drive for cybersecurity would be really useful for us,” Lynn said.

Lynn added that this is a perfect time for DoD and industry to collaborate on analytics because they are both seeing the same cybersecurity problems.

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