DISA goes operational, SETI contract avoiding LPTA

DISA says it's moving away from acquisition and toward operations, still its SETI contract will be awarded as a best value contract to much fanfare.

Over the past year the Defense Information Systems Agency has reorganized its structure, but along with institutional changes, the defense IT body is seeing shifts in its mission as well.

DISA is moving more and more from an acquisitions based agency to an operational one, said DISA’s Executive Deputy Director Tony Montemarano during a May 20 speech. That includes some changes for operations and sustainment employees within DISA.

That adjustment has become especially clear the Joint Force Headquarters – Defense Department Information Networks was given authority over DISA. The headquarters was created to take over operational and defensive duties from U.S. Cyber Command.

Montemarano told Federal News Radio after speaking at an AFCEA event in Vienna, Virginia that the change is due to the advances made in industry.

“We’re getting away from the development of technical solutions and turning to industry. They’re coming forth with them and we are putting [their products] on [government] infrastructure,” Montemarano said. “Technology has evolved such that industry has the boxes, the wires, the solution sets. What we have to do is adapt them to our applications.”

Montemarano said in the 1980s and ’90s DoD developed its own solutions when it comes to IT. Now it turns to industry.

DISA is now more worried about operating and protecting its systems.

“Yes we are deploying infrastructure, but the bigger thing is operate and secure the environment,” Montemarano said during his speech.

With that new focus, DISA is looking to “morph” the sustainment and operations offices within the agency, Montemarano said.

“We have organizations inside the agency focused on maintaining the infrastructure from a contracting perspective and the like. We’re trying to bring them closer and closer together so it’s more real-time … better collaboration,” Montemarano told Federal News Radio.


Just because DISA is pivoting toward the operational side of things, doesn’t mean acquisition is completely out the window. The agency is preparing its big Encore III and Systems Engineering Technology Innovation (SETI) contracts. Both provide support to IT systems.

Montemarano said DISA will be doing a best value contract for SETI, instead of lowest price technically acceptable. That announcement drew applause from the crowd.

SETI has some internal delays currently. Montemarano said it will be a multiple award contract.

Montemarano also said DISA is getting close to releasing a request for proposals for on-site private cloud services.

“We’ll have a vendor with their logo sitting inside our base, inside of the Department of Defense’s perimeter, which is a key thing because as soon as you traverse our perimeter and go out into the Internet we get all sorts of excited and throw all sorts of security restraints on you so that nothing ever works right in terms of interactive computing. Inside is so much easier to operate under,” Montemarano said.

The Army is already preparing and in some pilot cases using on-site cloud services. It is expected to release a directive in June that will mandate the closure of unneeded, military-owned data centers. The directive will also offer incentives to bases for closing them.

“We’ve had the Army data center consolidation plan out for a number of years and I think we’ve reached the point where we’ve gathered all the low hanging fruit, so we’ve reached sort of a plateau and that’s one of the things that keeps [Lt.] Gen. Ferrell up at night,” said Col. John Rozsnyai, chief of enterprise architecture for the Army Chief Information Officer, during an interview in March.

The applications and data stored in those data centers will move to the hybrid cloud environment.

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