DISA's office complex is seen in a file photo. (DISA)
The Defense Department is overhauling its lengthy process for approving new smartphones, tablet computers and apps for DoD use.
The goal is to review and approve mobile apps and devices within 30 days by coordinating with industry in advance so vendors are building to department standards, said Jennifer Carter, the component acquisition executive at the Defense Information Systems Agency. DoD can then verify that those standards have been met rather than retesting the technology, which often bogs down the approval process.
“The traditional DoD cycle times do not meet what is needed to get these capabilities out to the warfighter, and we don’t want to be where by the time we issue the device it’s obsolete and … you have to buy it on eBay,” said Carter, who spoke at a DISA industry event Friday at Fort Meade, Maryland.
A new contract awarded in June to manage DoD’s mobile devices is expected to be fully operational by April, she said.
Carter highlighted two upcoming mobility contracts, including a mobile applications enterprise solutions contract to provide mobile access to office applications. DISA plans to release a request for information early next fiscal year but has not set a date for releasing a request for proposal. DISA will seek industry bids on a second mobility contract, called the gateway procurement, in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, Carter said. DISA expects to award the contract sometime between February and April.
She encouraged vendors to consider ways to make DoD systems and applications accessible via mobile devices.
Speeding the review and approval process will require accepting more risks, she said. For example, there’s a possibility new technology may not work perfectly the first time it’s adopted, and mobile users may have to wait to get newer devices or capabilities while DISA works out the kinks.
“We want to get in partnership with industry folks before they release products so that when they do release it we can turn around and buy it because it’s now available,” she said. Carter added that if DoD “waited for a product to mature and be completely proven before we started the process to offer that as a capability, we would always be again behind the curve.”