Next man up: Booz Allen tries its hand to modernize GSA’s IAE

Jason Miller discusses the future of GSA's acquisition system with Federal Drive Host Tom Temin.

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The General Services Administration is giving Booz Allen Hamilton the reins to modernize the Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE).

Quietly, GSA awarded Booz Allen a $64.5 million contract over the next five years to develop a cloud service broker model using open source and cloud technologies to modernize the 10 databases that make up IAE.

This is the second time GSA has hired a contractor to bring together the disparate databases into the System for Award Management (SAM).

In 2010, GSA hired IBM under a similar long-term, relatively high dollar contract. But Big Blue and GSA faltered under the $74.4 million, eight-year contract for several reasons, including a modernization plan that didn’t evolve with the technologies.

Now GSA is turning to Booz Allen and the use of open source technologies.

Under the new contract, Booz Allen said in a press release that it will “design, develop, implement and operate a single, common services platform that will provide future IAE core applications with hosting, search, database and data store, reports, visualization, identity and access management (IAM) and application programming interface (API) management.”

An email and phone call to Booz Allen for comment on the award was not returned.

In the release, Booz Allen said it also will help GSA “apply cloud and open-source solutions across the Federal Acquisition Service’s entire acquisition life cycle. Users — federal agencies looking to acquire goods and services, external contractors bidding for and securing contracts — will enjoy a faster, more streamlined service.”

GSA righted the IAE ship after a problematic launch in 2012 that included a host of software development and platform instability shortcomings. At one point, IAE and the System for Award Management, which is where these 10 databases now reside, was on life support with GSA having to send the rescue crew in and give IBM a “cure” letter to fix the initial problems.

Since then, however, GSA has seen few problems with IAE and SAM, but still the approach to integration and modernization needed to be addressed.

Now Booz Allen gets its shot at this challenge.

Let’s hope IAE isn’t like the retirement system modernization program that chewed up and spit out three contractors over the last 15 years.

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.