The Pentagon’s technology support agency is looking for industry to inform its decision on whether its upcoming $8 billion enterprise cloud services contract is a single award or multi-vendor competition, as officials look to expand the program’s offering to civilian agencies.

Defense Information Systems Agency officials told reporters Monday that feedback from industry on the Defense Enterprise Office Solution’s (DEOS) interoperability requirements will settle the competition decision ahead of a request for proposals (RFP) in early 2019.pentagon_defensewatch

“We have had a lot of interaction with industry throughout the whole development of DEOS in trying to understand how to shape that contract and, ultimately, deliver the best product for what could be well beyond the military services into across all of DoD and other government space as well,” Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, director of DISA, told reporters. “We want to make sure we get that right in a way that’s satisfactory to industry.”

DISA has shifted the DEOS procurement process over to GSA, which will leverage its Schedule 70 contract vehicle for the program.

DoD CIO Dana Deasy told attendees at Monday’s DISA industry day that having GSA serve as the acquisition lead will ensure the program’s requirements are streamlined.

“By using the flexibility of the GSA contract vehicle, it will allow the DoD to transition to the cloud with less scheduled risk and at a lower cost,” Deasy said.

GSA released the DEOS request for information on Oct. 25.

Brian Hermann, DISA’s services development executive, said the number of DEOS awards will be determined by industry’s ability to meet the program’s high-level interoperability requirements and deliver a non-developmental cloud offering.

“We don’t know necessarily what the right answer is on the single versus multi-award. That’s very much part of what we’re asking industry to tell us in the RFI that’s out there,” Hermann told reporters. “There’s competition that happens around the technology. There’s also competition that centers around who the service provider is. All that is being looked at right now.”

DoD’s concurrent cloud computing efforts, the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, has faced congressional and industry pushback for its single-award contract structure and claims of skewed competition towards only the largest service providers (Defense Daily, Oct. 23).

“We have an interoperability expectation for collaboration across the Department of Defense. Our understanding of the technology today is that a one-vendor solution doesn’t necessarily work with other vendor solutions,” Hermann said.“There’s competition that happens around the technology. There’s also competition that centers around who the service provider is. All that is being looked at right now.”

DEOS’ goal to offer an enterprise-wide office collaboration tool is expected to extend beyond the Pentagon, as other federal agencies may have interest in working with DISA to integrate and take advantage of the service’s interoperability capabilities.

“We, as a combat support agency for IT, are really in a unique position across the government to provide those kinds of enterprise services and enterprise solutions. Nobody in industry or across the government scales to the size that we do for many of those solutions,” Norton said.

Hermann said having GSA as the contracting lead will help federal agencies, such as DHS, meet their individual cloud computing orders.

“With GSA in the procurement role, the ordering process for the entire federal government will be a little more standardized,” Hermann said.

Industry responses to the DEOS RFI are due by Nov. 9.