CACI wins $5.7 billion award to start privatizing Air Force network management

The Department of the Air Force on Tuesday made a long-awaited contract award to begin its Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS) initiative, a project that aims to largely outsource the day-to-day management of its IT infrastructure.

The award for the first phase of the EITaaS program, dubbed “Wave 1,” went to a team of 10 vendors led by Chantilly, Va.-based CACI. The Air Force made the award as a blanket purchase agreement worth up to $5.7 billion over 10 years. Officials said they conducted the competition within the General Services Administration’s Schedules program, and the CACI team beat out three competing offers.

In the first wave, the focus will be on devices and manpower. The vendors will be responsible for IT service management, end user devices, and various support services, including operating a centralized helpdesk for the Air Force and Space Force.

Venice Goodwine, the director of enterprise information technology in the Air Force CIO’s office, said Wave 1 will also include an “IT store.”

“That allows us to consistently purchase any IT services across the Department of the Air Force,” she said during a Aug. 26 event hosted by Washington Technology. “All these capabilities allow us to be modeled after industry best practices, but it’s also cost effective for the Air Force mission as well. It’s going to allow us to have a seamless IT experience. One of the things we’re getting will be instead of a desktop configuration which may have been reconfigured across the department, we now will have one enterprise configuration. So you might imagine that helps us with the defense of our network, but it also helps with the user experience that is very important for us as well. And the focus will also be on a seamless IT experience, as you know, with our help desk.”

In the second wave, set to be awarded in calendar year 2023, the Air Force plans to conduct a new competition for vendors to run its base-area networks. A third wave will focus on wide-area networks.

The Air Force has been sketching out the EITaaS concept since at least 2017, and has awarded several other transaction agreements to prove out the idea on eight separate bases since then. The overarching goal is to get the Air Force out of the business of owning and operating commodity IT. Officials believe that letting industry handle those functions will keep the technology service members use more current, while also letting government personnel focus on higher-end tasks like cyber defense.

“It’s also very important that instead of having stovepiped individual networks within our major commands, we’ll have a campus-wide network. And requires us to collapse our infrastructure and lay the groundwork for zero trust,” Goodwine said. “All of this enables our zero trust implementation. And we wanted to make sure that as we talked about transforming our digital environment, we wanted to make sure we did it in a way that was cohesive, that we have operations that are interoperable, that we have devices that are state of the art, and that our manpower can be realigned to do that higher level work.”

 

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