Oct 09 2017

How EIS Will Spur Federal IT Modernization

The Trump administration has signaled that the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions network modernization contract can help smaller agencies leverage the government’s buying power.

Can one contract change the way the government buys IT? The Trump administration seems to think the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract could fit the bill.

In August, the General Services Administration announced the names of the 10 prime contractors that will administer its $50 billion EIS contract, which will enable agencies to modernize their network infrastructures and embrace new architectures, including software-defined networking.

In remarks at an industry conference last month, acting federal CIO Margie Graves said EIS “could potentially be used as a strategic sourcing vehicle for the federal government's IT modernization push, as well as for cloud and cybersecurity efforts,” FCW reports.

The administration’s report on IT modernization, which was released at the end of August, mentions EIS prominently. The report notes that EIS is designed to “address all aspects of agency telecommunications and network infrastructure requirements while also leveraging the bulk purchasing power” of the government. EIS, the report says, “can be leveraged to help address some of the unique challenges faced by small agencies, a community that typically lags behind the large agencies in terms of cybersecurity capabilities.”

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Smaller and non-CFO Act agencies often struggle to attract and retain top information security personnel and lack the expertise to fully manage their IT security programs, which hurts the government’s ability to gain a full understanding of the risk to federal networks. “EIS can be leveraged to consolidate acquisition activities and other security services for small agency networks,” the report says.

EIS’s prominent place in the report is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to make contracts more efficient and use more commercial technology, FCW notes. Deniece Peterson, Deltek’s director of federal market analysis, tells FCW that “EIS makes sense” as a way to boost government efficiency.

EIS can be used for managed services, cybersecurity and other telecom services, allowing agencies to tap a common contract and similar services instead of cobbling together their own solutions, Peterson says.

Help Small Agencies Get Access to Advanced Services

According to the report, by the end of November, GSA, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, “shall develop a comprehensive acquisition strategy that provides a feasibility assessment and roadmap” to accomplish several objectives.

The administration wants GSA and DHS to give all small agencies a pathway to “more easily and cost effectively utilize EIS services,” so that the government can maximize its buying power when issuing contracts under EIS. The two agencies must also “identify additional areas of opportunity outside of EIS to consolidate acquisition of cybersecurity services and products.” And they are supposed to “determine the feasibility of establishing a centralized acquisition support function within GSA that is capable of performing cybersecurity-related contract management activities for small agencies.”

Optimize Network Technology Spending

The IT modernization report notes that, under the current Networx contract, agencies that do not have their own Trusted Internet Connection capabilities must procure TIC services by purchasing the full suite of Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS).

TICs are designed to “optimize and standardize the security of individual external network connections currently in use by federal agencies,” including connections to the internet, DHS notes. MTIPS are managed TIC compliance solutions.

The administration says that because all of those services are bundled, agencies are prohibited from “procuring only those tools they need, thereby increasing cost.”

Agencies are required to transition away from the Networx contracting vehicle by the spring of 2020.

In contrast, the report says, EIS “will allow agencies the flexibility to choose a la carte the managed security services tools they need to comply with MTIPS requirements, while still being protected by the intrusion detection and prevention capabilities DHS provides.”

Although this may save agencies money, some small agencies might still struggle to procure TIC-like capabilities due to the complexity of managing the procurement and integration of multiple vendors. However, when paired with the proposed revisions to the existing TIC policy and reference architecture, “agencies will be able to make cost-effective acquisition decisions based on their existing tools and overall risk tolerance,” the report says.

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