IT and Networks

US Army enterprise IT office looks to expand ‘as a service’

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems is looking to expand its partnership with industry in several areas, including its “as a service” opportunities, an Army official said Tuesday.

Brendan Burke, the deputy program executive officer at PEO EIS, said at the AFCEA Belvoir Industry Day that there’s “probably nothing that we’re not looking at as ‘as a service'" as the program office looks at ways to save money and increase efficiency.

“I wouldn’t take anything off the table in terms of should it be done as a service,” Burke said.

Burke’s comments come as the Army continues work with Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T on an enterprise IT as-a-service pilot across nine sites, with a final decision being made in 2023 or 2024. The pilot is currently in the implementation phase, according to Ross Guckert, the program executive officer at EIS.

PEO EIS oversees the Army’s enterprise network and business systems. Awards to the three companies totaled more than $33 million.

Burke mentioned that the program office was in discussions with Army Network Enterprise Technology Command about a network operations center as-a-service, but didn’t go into detail. In his remarks, Burke said that he encourages industry to “come in with as a service” proposals.

Industry training PEO EIS personnel?

A major challenge that the program office faces for the future of the as a service model is funding. Dollars for “as a service” are categorized as operations and maintenance funds, he said, so the office has to plan for that years in advance to ensure that it as O&M funds, not procurement funds.

“Right now, it is a challenge if we commit to a service ‘as a service’ model to program those dollars ‘as a service’ for the right timeline,” Burke said, adding “Can we predict two years ahead of time when we need to commit those [other procurement] dollars to O&M dollars?”

The EITaaS pilot program currently underway is expected to reduce outages, increase availability, improve security and provide EIS with state-of-the-art commercial technology that it currently doesn’t have, while reducing cost, Guckert told C4ISRNET last month.

The program office also wants to identify and improve the skillsets of its workforce to meet the emerging needs of the office in areas like data science and cyber. PEO EIS is working to identify employees who already have skillsets and then put them on a training path with industry.

“Can we create a situation where we have someone who will be responsible for an [enterprise resource planning] rollout that spends some time with industry at a company that’s going through that? Not a company that’s selling that, but actually living and seeing how they do it and then get the training that they need so when they come to the job, they have deeper exposure to business system side of the house and the IT side,” Burke said.

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