The Pentagon and General Services Administration released a request for information Oct. 25 for a new unified collaborative cloud solution that will unite the entire defense apparatus under one enterprise contract.

The Defense Enterprise Office Solution is the first capability set of three that the Department of Defense plans to use to capture its enterprise collaboration and productivity needs.

The DEOS capability set needs include a productivity suite, messaging capabilities, content management systems and collaboration tools.

“We operate pretty much in a disparate environment right now, and predominantly on-[premises] for these capabilities. So DEOS will give us an opportunity to tear down some of those barriers, posture us for increased interoperability while taking advantage of what the commercial community has to offer,” said Essye Miller, principal deputy to the DoD chief information officer, at a press roundtable.

“From a benefit perspective, for us: real-time upgrades, real-time refresh, real-time access to innovation as our industry partners make them available to us.”

The contract will be offered through GSA’s IT Schedule 70, which Miller said has matured to the level that was needed to support Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router, Secret Internet Protocol Router and tactical environment needs.

“In fact, IT Schedule 70 is the vehicle GSA itself used to procure its own cloud-based email, collaboration and productivity solution,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, adding that GSA is committed to working with vendors who would want to propose through the expedited Schedule 70 FASt Lane program.

“Using IT Schedule 70 to help DoD procure an enterprisewide solution for email, productivity and collaboration tools could establish a baseline for GSA to scale up this type of solution across the federal government in the future.”

In fact, according to Federal CIO Suzette Kent, the DoD solution moves the federal government forward on initiatives to use and procure scalable cloud solutions across agencies.

“When we look at where we were with the report to the president across the federal government, and the intent to leverage as many common solutions for purposes of interoperability, cybersecurity … and the overall efficiency of how we go after those solutions and the ability to keep those current, this is a really positive collaboration, and something that we’re incredibly supportive of,” said Kent.

Industry has just over two weeks to respond to the RFI, which closes Nov. 9, and the subsequent request for quotes will likely be released in early 2019, according to officials.

The DoD and General Services Administration also plan to hold industry days in early December 2018 to facilitate communication between government and industry on the best way to approach the contract.

The award for the eventual contract is planned for sometime in the third quarter of 2019, and would likely be set for approximately 10 years and $8 billion, according to Murphy, though that number could change depending on industry input.

The appropriate solution would likely have to be certified at FedRAMP Moderate, said Miller.

According to Murphy, GSA and DoD have yet to determine whether a single-award or multi-award contract will best suit the DoD’s needs — a debate that proved highly contentious for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract that opened for proposals July 26 — and the RFI asks respondents to provide pros and cons for each option.

But DoD CIO Dana Deasy said that the DEOS program is part of a Pentagon initiative to bring defense operations into a multi-cloud and multi-vendor environment.

“Our intentions are to have a cloud that can serve general purpose computing needs, as well as what I have coined a term as ‘fit-for-purpose’ clouds, which could consist of internal clouds or commercial clouds that have a unique fit for purpose,” said Deasy, adding that DEOS would be one such cloud.

Because DEOS is one of three collaboration capability sets the agency is looking to fulfill, DoD could end up offering a total of three contracts in that space, according to Miller.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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