Pentagon’s $13 Bn “Encore II” RFP Gets Revised, Extended
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) said it will extend the due date for proposals on its 5+5 year, $13 billion Encore II enterprise services contract. An internal Defense Department review will require revisions to the December 5, 2005 RFP, and DISA expects to release a new deadline within a week.
Encore II is the result of a journey that began during Desert Storm, and is itself a way-station of sorts along the path to another key DISA project, Net-Centric Enterprise Services. What’s all this about?
The example of the US Army soldier reduced to using his cell phone and credit card to call Ft. Bragg for air support in Grenada was a watershed moment for the US military’s drive for common communications between the services. Ten years later, Operation Desert Storm was a similar turning point for computing, and the next step along the road to full C3I integration was begun. The services and agencies had many good capabilities, but they founf that they couldn’t be leveraged across service or agency boundaries. Result? so intelligence was fragmented, coordination costs were high, and joint operations were hampered.
The response was one seen often in the private sector, which was faced with similar problems across corporate divisions and departments: standardize the run-time environment, lock down some key system architecture elements, and provide some core services all could use in development without having to do a lot of coordination. This was the Common Operating Environment. Despite its local costs and the security risks of an all-Windows OS monoculture, it was a big step forward toward another goal – creating systems that played better together, and could be upgraded all at once with less toil and tears.
As is true in most organizations, however, it’s a long way from ideal. Just as businesses are under increasing competitive pressure to move to wide-access, real-time applications, the US military faces a Global War on Terror that creates similar pressures.
As technology has moved beyond client-server and into web services, object-oriented programming, and even distributed architectures, creating that kind of environment is becoming thinkable. Confronted first with the concept of “The Revolution In Military Affairs” and then with a global intelligence war, the US military is preparing to take the next step beyond COE. That’s where Encore II comes in.
Originally estimated at $10-$12 billion by industry, Encore II has been announced as a $13 billion deal. Services under this contract will include high level enterprise IT policy, integration management, communications engineering, and asset management. According to the Encore II RFP, DISA intends to use the contract to support users in the military services and agencies as they transition from legacy systems to Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES), which embodies the new techno-organizational opportunities described above. Encore II will help them effectively use core NCES product lines, including collaboration and discovery tools, and a planned joint services knowledge portal.
That’s the vision, anyway. Generally, transitions of this type in large organizations are difficult and painful. There’s a good deal of infrastructure investment up front, along with accompanying intramural political fights. Those decisions and projects have to be well-conceived and well executed, too, or everything that follows will be several times more difficult. Once key infrastructure piece are in place and architectures begin to realign, transitions can begin in key applications. Meanwhile, new pieces of the puzzle built to address very specific local functions arise (or emerge from the organizational shadows) to take advantage of the wider architecture’s new capabilities. They are then knit together and incorporated into the mix.
That’s the idea, anyway. DISA Director Lt. Gen. Charles Croom (USAF), said he expects the agency to award more than nine contracts for Encore II, which has a five-year baseline and the option for another five years. Each contract will be awarded to a specific firm, but behind each winner will be a large consortium team that can deliver the ultra-wide variety of services requested.
Meanwhile, to meet the strong demand for engineering services in the DOD (including key items like supply chain improvements), DISA raised the ceiling on its existing Encore I contract in August 2005 from $ 2 billion to $2.5 billion.
- We have a winner! Six winners, actually, for a contract that turns out to be $12.225 billion over 10 years.
- Military Information Technology Vol.10 #1 (Jan 26/06) – “Bravo for Encore.” Fine background article regarding ENCORE II.
- Military Information Technology Vol.7, #3 (Mar 30/03) – Net-Centric Enterprise Services: What problem are we trying to solve?. A very fine article that offer a broad view of ENCORE’s genesis and ongoing developments.