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CHESS moves: Commercial software contract slippage likely

Mar. 6, 2014 - 12:00PM   |  
Brendan Burke--CHESS
Brendan Burke, Project Director for Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, said a formal acquisition strategy for the program is in development. (Alan Lessig / Gannett Government Media)

The Army is moving forward with plans to award a multi-billion dollar, follow-on contract for commercial IT, but officials anticipate there will be slippage in the schedule as they work through the complexities of managing a massive contract.

The Army’s Computer Hardware Enterprise Software and Solutions expects to make up to two dozen awards under the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-3 Services (ITES-3S) contract in early 2017, according to CHESS officials.

A formal acquisition strategy was not publicly released at a Feb. 20 industry day, but Brendan Burke, project director for CHESS, said it’s in the works. “A lot of people are involved,” Burke told a packed auditorium of nearly 600 industry representatives.

Any changes to the potential strategy or the way evaluations are conducted will have an overall impact on the schedule, Burke said. Considering the widespread interest in ITES-3S, reviewing bid proposals will also take time.

“Maybe we’ll only get 25 [proposals],” Burke joked.

One challenge for the Army as well as other federal agencies is picking the best proposals doesn’t necessarily mean picking the best prime contractor, Burke said. The contract is expected to have on-ramps and off-ramps to deal with poor performers.

IT research firm Deltek marked ITES-3 as one of the top contracting opportunities of the year. The contract has an estimated ceiling value between $12 billion and $20 billion, and the CHESS office expects to award 24 contracts, with up to 14 awards reserved for small business. The contract is expected to have five base years and one four-year option period.

The ordering period for ITES-2S expires in April 2015 but work is allowed to continue through April 2016.

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