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PEO EIS adapts to budget realities

Apr. 1, 2014 - 01:05PM   |  
By BARRY ROSENBERG   |   Comments
Doug Wiltsie
Douglas K. Wiltsie, Program Executive Officer, Enterprise Information Systems, is adjusting to a new budget era. (Rob Curtis/Staff)

The Army’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) provides infrastructure and information management systems, and develops, acquires and deploys tactical and management information technology systems and products. Its program executive officer is Doug Wiltsie, a member of the Senior Executive Service who has been in the position since late 2011.

He spoke to C4ISR & Networks Editor Barry Rosenberg about new contracting vehicles like enterprise licensing agreements and network modernization.

C4ISR: What are your priority issues?

WILTSIE: There are actually a number of them. The focus this year is on uninterrupted capability delivery in this fiscally constrained environment. What that comes down to is the ability — within the dollars we’re given — to determine what we can and cannot deliver, while working with the operators to make sure we’re giving them what they need.

Second, focus on execution excellence has been a mandate since I’ve been here, and we’re getting better and better. But it’s really about awarding contracts on time, delivering on time, integrating on time and providing an operational capability on time. It’s just about doing what we say we’re going to do when we say we’re going to do it.

The third is about organizational development and shaping, which is a continuum. As programs move from development to production, production to sustainment, the organization should shift in the types of people they have and the numbers of people.

C4ISR: So are there a lot of programs undergoing transition?

WILTSIE: I would tell you that more of the reshaping is being driven by the shrinking budget than it is anything else. As the Army shrinks, the civilians are going to shrink as part of the budget. There have been some personnel cuts, and we’re working through those. But I would say, in any year, about 25 percent are moving. We’re a little unique in that there are PM’s that constantly have projects that are in development going into production, and then into sustainment. ... The IT infrastructure and the SATCOM guys are like that.

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Other things we’re focused on are better sustainment management and then IT acquisition reform. We’re not the lead in IT acquisition reform, but we’re a player in it, and it’s really trying to bring an acquisition viewpoint to how do you do things fast. Cyber is probably the best example. Cyber needs to move at a speed that the classical acquisition process really doesn’t allow.

When you talk to industry about what do they do with regard to hackers and attacks and malware, they have a very structured process operating, monitoring, evaluating analyses and defending. It’s on a very short timeline, and the Army needs to be in that same pace in order to keep up.

C4ISR: You probably remember the huge enterprise licensing agreement with Microsoft a couple years ago, and there’s been a recent one with CDW-G for Adobe products. What are your thoughts on new contracting vehicles like joint enterprise licensing agreements and lowest price/technically acceptable contracts? Are you taking advantage of them?

WILTSIE: We are. Here at PEO EIS, the benefits are related to taking advantage of economies of scale. With enterprise license agreements, ... Microsoft is a great example, we did that with the Air Force and DISA in the lead. ... It allows us to pool a number of users together to get more features for the same price, get a lower price or actually get a combination of both, which is where we ended up. So it’s taking advantage of a large population that entices the commercial world to sharpen their pencil and give us a better price.

Lowest price/technically acceptable goes along the same lines for us. If you know exactly what you need and it is a COTs product, then you really want to get the lowest price. And that has affected some of our industry partners; there is no question.

C4ISR: In what way?

WILTSIE: It changes their business model. One of things we do in order to get economies of scale, and I’ll pick on the network because that’s the easiest thing to use as an example, is we shifted from geographic improvement of the network to functions: bandwidth, security and enterprise services to include net operations. If you’re looking at bandwidth, then you’re looking at switches. If you know what kind of switches you want to buy, then just go buy them.

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The business model in the past had been geography. So we would go to Fort Hood, and we would buy 10 or 20 switches. The real change in the price there didn’t have an influence on the overall structure of what we were doing at Fort Hood. So they could give us best value in that they could give us some features that maybe we wanted — things like improved efficiency or more ports — and not the minimum requirement. When you buy them in bulk, you really want to get the best price, and that’s why we use lowest price/technically accepted.

C4ISR: So clearly we’ll be seeing more of these contracts?

WILTSIE: I expect you will. (The) Microsoft (contract) will have to go through a re-compete. There will be another one for Oracle. Usually the enterprise license agreements are for the maintenance side once the licenses have been obtained.

C4ISR: In the area of network modernization, you’ve talked about increasing bandwidth to posts, camps and stations, and improving security by collapsing security stacks. Tell me about that initiative.

WILTSIE: As I said before, the Army network modernization program really focuses on four lines of effort: bandwidth, security, enterprise services and net operations across the enterprise. When we were doing network modernization, we were doing it geographically. We’d go to Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Rucker and Fort Campbell. What you never saw was capability across the Army that was the same at any one time.

So we decided to look at functions, and bandwidth was the first one. At the time JIE was evolving as a concept, and the idea was to utilize the DISA network infrastructure that exists today and put the Army behind it. Today the Army has a network that is really comprised of about 30 sub-networks. Each organization has their own set of firewalls and TLA (top level architecture) stacks that allow them to do defense in depth. The problem that you run into if you’re trying to operate that network is you have got to get permission from each one of those organizations to go through their firewall to be able to see the whole network. So if you’re trying to operate, monitor and defend it becomes very hard.

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So the idea with bandwidth was to get behind the DISA infrastructure, invest some dollars to bring their DISA nodes up to 100 Gigs, connect that to each post, camp and station at 100 Gigs. So we had 100 Gigs to the post, 10 to the building, 1 to the appliance. The idea is to have a design that will continue to scale so that we can keep bandwidth as a constraint off the table for a while.

The security aspects of it come in about three or four parts. Being behind the DISA design allows us to create regional security stacks. These are very robust and will allow us to protect the entire Army — DISA and the Air Force are going to be part this, too. We will limit the number of security stacks we have to less than a dozen in the United States and less than 30 around the world.

There’s a benefit to that. If it’s robust enough and it has the right sensors on it, it allows us to monitor the traffic, remove these organizational TLA stacks so that we can see the entire network at a very high enterprise level. Also, because you’re removing all these TLA stacks on post camps and stations, it brings the bandwidth of the post camps and stations up.

By being behind the DISA infrastructure there’s only about half a dozen ways to connect to the Internet, which allows us to manage, monitor and operate what’s coming in from the Internet and allows us to understand where vulnerabilities and potential attacks can come from.

The last thing I’ll say is, within the regional security stacks, we have the ability to apply analytics. So for things like Big Data and insider threats, we can monitor that in a purple world across the Department of Defense ... better insight, better ability to defend and allows us to have better speed to affect an attack as it occurs. ■

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