WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s $11.7 billion network consolidation contract and a “crown jewel” of the defense department’s IT reform efforts is expected to be released next week after a two-month delay, a defense official told reporters Thursday.

The contract, called Defense Enclave Services, will move 22 Defense Department organizations, known as Fourth Estate agencies, from disparate networks to common IT systems under a single provider. Government leaders expected to release the final solicitation in late September. A draft request for proposals had been released earlier that month.

“We’re anticipating the final release next week,” said Don Means, Jr., national leadership command capabilities executive at the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The delay was due to an additional review by Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s top IT official, according to Danielle Metz, the DoD’s acting deputy CIO for information enterprise. She added that such a review was standard practice.

“What we really wanted to make sure was that, both from DISA and DoD CIO’s perspective, that all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed,” Metz said. “This is an incredibly important endeavor that we are embarking on. It is one of the crown jewels that we have as part of our IT reform initiative under the [National Defense Strategy] and so we thought that a little bit more due diligence was important to make sure that we were doing what was right for the department.”

Fourth estate agencies are DoD agencies that don’t fall under a military department, such as the Missile Defense Agency or Defense Logistics Agency. The contract is expected to be an 10-year, indefinite delivery, indefinitely quantity contract. The final award is still expected to come in December 2021, as originally scheduled. The Defense Enclave Services contract is part of the Pentagon’s push to save money through the Fourth Estate Network Optimization effort, an IT reform push to consolidate common IT services across the department.

Across those offices, “you’ve got varying IT networks at varying levels of maturity, varying levels of security. With the goal being integration, this is the way to get after it,” Means said.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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