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DISA’s Encore III, SETI contracts slip behind schedule

January 12, 2016 (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

Two major IT-focused contracts from the Defense Information Systems Agency are falling behind their slated timelines as officials at the agency work out kinks where the two overlap.

As recently as November DISA officials expected a request for proposals for Encore III, which encompasses 20 different performance areas under the umbrella of IT services, in the December time frame. The timeline for the Systems Engineering Technology Innovation (SETI) contract vehicle was even blurrier, but DISA hosted an industry day back in June 2015.

But complexities and commonalities in the two contracts are proving to be sticking points as officials are working to get RFPs out the door to industry, DISA leaders said Jan. 12 at an AFCEA DC breakfast in Arlington, Virginia.

“SETI is an [indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity] contract for multiple vendors to provide engineering support, intended to be more innovative engineering support as opposed to Encore [III’s] routine engineering support,” said Tony Montemarano, DISA executive deputy director. “We haven’t reconciled between the two contractual initiatives. There’s too much overlap so we’re working on that, to clean that up, so the timeline for SETI we are told is third quarter. I’m not comfortable with that but nonetheless, we’re trying to do the due diligence.”

Encore III, which “has run into snags,” according to Montemarano, is a follow-on to the $12-billion-ceiling Encore II contract that expires in 2018. DISA officials didn't give a figure for Encore III, but sources have put the number as high as more than $17 billion over 10 years. The contract remains a lowest price technically acceptable agreement, Montemarano said.

Encore III’s delays have been complicated further by the very nature of what the contract provides; DISA officials in the past alluded to wrangling the complexities of providing evolving IT services under a massive, long-term contract that must be able to accommodate emerging technologies. Much has changed even since Encore II's release, a fact that's reflected, to begin with, in the performance areas of Encore III.

“The performance areas are consistent across the board except we've added cyber, mobility and cloud as performance area capability for services to be provided,” Doug Packard, DISA procurement executive, said at the agency’s Forecast to Industry in November. “It's so large and the performance areas are so broad it takes multiple pages to describe what each of those performance areas are.”

SETI, which is an omnibus engineering contract aimed more at new technologies and systems rather than the legacy programs Encore III covers, will fall in line with DISA’s broader emphasis on consolidating contracts wherever possible.

"We're looking across the enterprise and saying instead of having all these different engineering contracts and – I hate to say stove-piped, but identified by program office or business line – and have an enterprise engineering vehicle that all of our program offices and business lines can go to and acquire engineering support as necessary,” Alfred Rivera, director of DISA's development and business center, said last year

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