Air Force plans huge follow-on contract for intelligence IT

Members of surveillance and reconnaissance division provide intel to operations chief during an exercise. Members of surveillance and reconnaissance division provide intel to operations chief during an exercise. United States Air Force
The intelligence community's voracious appetite for information technology has prompted the Air Fore to kick off a massive, accelerated procurement for IT equipment, software and services to support intelligence activities and agencies throughout the federal government.

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, which is managing the contract, unveiled in June plans for the Information, Command and Control Equipment and Enhancement (ICE2) follow-on contract. It will replace the $1.95 billion ICE2 contract awarded to General Dynamics in June 2003. That original contract, which had option years through 2013, reached its ceiling value in June. The Air Force has yet to value the ICE2 follow-on contract, indicating only that it will be more than $1 billion.

But briefing documents on the ICE2 follow-on contract provided to vendors by the Defense Intelligence Agency at an industry conference on Aug. 13 show an ambitious plan to develop a large IT contract to support intelligence activities and agencies throughout the Defense Department and civilian agencies.

Plans call for the ICE2 follow-on contract to support 40,000 intelligence customers at numerous agencies, including the Office of Director of National Intelligence, DIA, National Ground Intelligence Center, Office of Naval Intelligence, Counterintelligence Field Activity, Joint IED Defeat Organization and all combatant commands. The contract also will support intelligence activities at the Coast Guard, the FBI, and the Energy, State and Treasury departments.

The briefing documents offer rare insight into the systems architecture at DIA Regional Service Centers and the Ft. Bragg, N.C.-based Ground Intelligence Support Activity, which provides intelligence support to combatant commands such as the Joint Forces Command, national agencies and the Army.

The DIA briefing "certainly does present a lot of detail," said Philip Coyle, a senior adviser with the Center for Defense Information who served as assistant secretary of Defense and director of its operational test and evaluation office from 1994 to 2001. "I've not seen this much information about the scope of DoD intelligence activities since I left the Pentagon."

The details in the briefing slides provide potential bidders with an "idea of the scope of work" under the upcoming ICE2 follow-on contract, said Don Black, a DIA spokesman. No classified information was presented in the briefing slides, he said.

The ICE2 follow-on will serve intelligence agency customers at 950 sites in 150 countries with networks and information systems with various degrees of classification, ranging from unclassified to the sensitive compartmented information level, the briefing slides disclosed.

The briefing slides on equipment and services provided under the current ICE2 contract show that the intelligence community has a large IT appetite that will probably continue under the follow-on contract. The DIA Northeast Regional Service Center supports 19,191 users with SCI accounts, 19,239 users with Secret accounts and another 19,606 unclassified users.

The computer infrastructure at the Northeast Center includes 19,166 Windows PCs, which consist of 8,774 SCI computers, 5,143 computers and 5,249 unclassified PCs. The Northeast Center also supports 4,369 Sun Ray thin clients from Sun Microsystems and 3,710 Voice over Internet Protocol phones.

ICE2 systems at the Ground Intelligence Support Activity support 7,644 users at 94 remote sites and equipment includes 3,858 workstations and 266 servers, according to the briefing. GISA communications support intelligence users in the Central Command, which manages operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.S. Strategic Command, and communications links for tactical signals intelligence for the National Security Agency.

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center intends to pursue a "very aggressive, very accelerated" contracting strategy of the ICE2 follow-on contract, according to answers posted in response to vendor questions after the first industry day in June.

Speed is of the essence in developing and signing the ICE2 follow-on contract, the responses indicated because the contract already has hit its ceiling. Warner Robins plans to issue a draft request for proposals by the end of August, a final RFP in mid-October and an award in April 2008. Warner Robins officials said they are considering multiple awards, but have not yet made a final decision.

The accelerated schedule to award the contract and its scope have made procurement experts wary. "Contracts this large inevitably raise the question whether they are manageable, whether the winning contractor can actually manage such a far-flung and technically complex operation," Coyle said. "As the ballooning costs in the first ICE2 contract show, this new ICE2 follow-on contract could crash of its own weight if the DoD and the various agencies being supported do not supervise the work carefully."

Interested contractors, according to a list of attendees at the first industry day, include the major systems integrators General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

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