It seems like a waiting game right now. DoD has the money to purchase many of the things it needs, but because of the recent budget struggles and the current uncertainty, they are holding onto every penny – nervous to commit to anything until things settle down.
We are still waiting for the big decisions to be made (like NGEN, now many months over due).
Many other new starts seem critically on hold (like the new Fleet Support Engineering Team contract, but more on that another time!) However, a quick look at SPAWAR’s East Coast detachment might show some promise for future new work.
Most of the work that will come through SSC LANT in Charleston, the $5+ Billion dollar a year working capital funded organization that provides high end IT support to DoD and other federal organizations, including VA and DHS, will be doled out through the recently awarded pillar contracts. Although there are still a few outstanding awards, the market is mostly settled into winners and losers.
Currently even the winners are struggling to get any real money from these awards. First, they awarded these pillar contracts to just about any company that put together a decent proposal. Secondly, they awarded these pillars as multiple types: small business, preferred, 8(a), and Full and Open. The pillars were structured along the organizational lines of SSC LANT and broke down into groups: Decision Superiority (DS), Business and Force Support (BSA), Transport and Computing Infrastructure (TCI), Battlespace Awareness (BSA), and Production, Installation and ISEA (PII). Since so many contracts are being awarded within each one, the end result is a lot of companies drinking from the same pool of money. For example, PII awarded five 8(a)’s, seven preferred, six SBSA’s, and seven full and open contracts for a whopping total of 25 companies! This will provide SSC LANT with some outstanding competition, but also a nightmare of task orders for the CORs to manage. I do think this will settle out and money will start to flow soon enough. Meanwhile, some changes have occurred that would be of interest to anyone trying to get work some of this work.
Since the pillars were established, SSC LANT has reorganized to align towards supporting the new expeditionary war fighting capabilities required as we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan. If you missed the timing for the pillars, there is a small possibility that a new pillar, supporting the Expeditionary Portfolio, will surface sometime in the future.
There are several reasons why I think that might happen. Firstly, without their own pillar, the Expeditionary Portfolio will need to accomplish their work by awarding task orders through the previously mentioned pillar contracts, requiring muddy business lines and potential oversight confusion.
Secondly, SSC LANT has learned a great deal as they worked their way through the pillars and would probably love to have a chance to fix some of the mistakes they made on the first go around.
Additionally, an “off cycle” pillar like this one would allow companies not previously tied up in the original pillars a vehicle to work at SSC LANT. Since the first pillars were conceived, acquisition reforms have been relentless and tripwires are now in place to zoom in on any awarded contract that tries to add new performers. Despite the huge crowd that participated in the first go-around, it’s never good to lock potential star performers out of a market as big as this one.
And finally, last week MAJOR GENERAL DANA from USMC HQ came to Charleston to spend a day looking at SSC LANT capabilities. He is in charge of USMC Installations and Logistics and he is proposing some major changes to the current Global Command Support System, Marine Corps (GCSS-MC). He wants to address the 200+ fragmented legacy IT systems that currently support logistics. Many of these programs were developed in the 70’s and 80’s. Trying to pull them all together into an agile system that works lighting fast is a huge challenge. Currently running on ORACLE, the user experience has been great in the lab, but slow as molasses at the tactical edge. He is considering using the Expeditionary Portfolio to fix this, and that’s a tall order that will require all the smart talent SSC LANT can muster, plus a lean and agile acquisition capability – an Expeditionary Pillar.