Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Army Introducing Unified Capabilities during Infrastructure Modernization

The Army is using the Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD) contract vehicle to do the foundational engineering work necessary to expand Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) across its command post and garrison environments. These efforts are setting the stage for the enterprise-wide implementation of Unified Capabilities/Communications by FY 2016.

In last week’s post I provided details on the steps DISA is taking to introduce Unified Capabilities/Communications into the Department of Defense’s IT environment. This week, I turn to the U.S. Army and take a look at how it is contributing to the DoD’s Unified Communications initiative. As DISA’s approach made clear, the Network Services Directorate will provide an approved set of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions that Defense customers can implement. These solutions will be Internet Protocol (IP) based, interoperable, and compliant with the security standards set by the DoD CIO as part of the baseline for the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

DISA, however, can only enable so much through its efforts. To truly enable enterprise UC, the DoD requires an “Everything over IP” network infrastructure. This is where the military departments come in. Each MILDEP is responsible for putting its networks on an IP footing so that networks and systems can achieve interoperability. The Army’s efforts in this area are led by the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program (I3MP), which is part of the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. PM I3MP is contracting out the work to the 10 vendors that hold Army Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD) contracts. These vendors are AT&T, Avaya, Bechtel, EPS Corporation, General Dynamics, Lucent, NextiraOne (Black Box), SAIC, Siemens, and Federal Network Systems (Verizon). The IMOD vendors are doing the foundational engineering work required to implement Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) at multiple Army CONUS and OCONUS locations. Once the network infrastructure has been put into place, the fielding of UC, basically the introduction of COTS equipment and software, can begin.

How UC equipment and applications will be acquired – either through DISA’s contracts, or via the IMOD vendors, remains to be seen. Doug Wiltsie, the PEO EIS, suggested in late summer 2012 that the Army would field UC through the IMOD contracts and this seems like a good bet. Using IMOD vendors makes the most sense given that the contract vehicle is already in place to get the work done. Also, Mr. Wiltsie is all about fielding capabilities as quickly as possible, so using IMOD seems very likely at this point. With this in mind, here is an up-to-date snapshot of 2010-2012 spending on IMOD by vendor. As readers can see, Nextiraone and General Dynamics are winning the most business. The largest awards GD has won are for efforts at Ft. Campbell, Ft. Meade, Ft. Drum, and Ft. Gordon. Nextiraone’s largest award has been for work related to the Korea Transformation, Yongsan Relocation Plan, Land Partnership Plan. SAIC and Bechtel are not represented because neither company has won task orders during the 2010-2012 period.

If there is a wrench in the works that could significantly slow the Army’s progress toward UC it is the difficult budgetary situation. The Army’s FY 2013 budget request for UC is $142 million. However, given that the federal government is operating under a Continuing Resolution, a more realistic estimate of the available budget for this work is the FY 2012 baseline of $131 million. Then there is the looming threat of sequestration. Funding for work related to UC comes out of the Army’s $13.3 billion “Other Procurement” budget and $1.2 billion of this budget is subject to sequestration. So, while the foundational engineering for UC at Army installations undoubtedly will continue, the pace of UC fielding may be slower over the next couple of years as available funding dries up.

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