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FCW : November 30, 2013
November 30, 2013 FCW.COM 21 She said LPTA contracts can work for projects that do not require lead- ing-edge IT solutions and where price matters more than anything else. When budgets are constricted, however, it s better to pinch pennies on your help desk rather than on contracts related to cybersecurity or cloud computing, where performance issues can drasti- cally impact the mission. LPTA procurement is a "natural response to constrained resources," said Dan Chenok, executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government, but should be avoided on complex IT-related services or projects that call for innovation. "It tends to be a more upfront way to reduce costs, but it isn t a best-value or even a most cost-effective approach in the long run," Chenok said. He offered several alterna- tives to the traditional waterfall approach for complex services or mission-critical IT projects. The agile approach involves ongoing discussions between agencies and industry through- out a solution s development. Some agile methodologies break contracts into increments based on sets of nego- tiated deliverables, which reduces upfront costs and increases transpar- ency because decisions must be made at each step to move the contract for- ward. However, agile methods are not well-suited to large-scale projects and mission-critical systems for which fail- ure is not an option. In addition, Chenok said some agen- cies might nd it bene cial to conduct a "technology bake-off" among industry partners for certain kinds of IT solu- tions. Agencies supply a small amount of money to encourage companies to participate by creating prototypes and choose the best prototype to be scaled up.Chenok said cash-strapped agen- cies could use a challenge system to crowdsource requirements "to get the best-value approach." That strat- egy, which would require limited seed money, works for agencies that know their problems but are unsure of an exact solution. The legacy issue Although HealthCare.gov has been pil- loried even by backers of the Afford- able Care Act, VanRoekel went out of his way to praise the site s architec- ture at a recent event. "We should all be proud that some- thing this complex, this integrated to legacy systems --- and there are main- frames out there that this thing hooks to --- was done at Internet scale and taken online in this way," VanRoekel said. the Army's Network Inte- gration Evaluation (NIE) offers a chance for vendors to bring their IT offerings to Fort Bliss, Texas, for two weeks of hands-on demonstrations.The program has faced criticism --- including a Government Accountability Of ce report released in August that highlighted problems with acquisition logistics --- but Army of cials have insisted that the program is essential to getting new technologies into war zones quickly. Besides serving as a testbed to see what works with the military's network and what does not, NIE gives soldiers the opportunity to assess the technologies. Of cials say their feedback has proven invaluable to the military's buying decisions. It has also accelerated the deployment of technologies that have passed the tests. "We've made a lot of small purchases that we've rolled back in very quickly over in the theater, putting small technologies into the hands of soldiers, " said Lt. Gen. James Barclay, the Army's deputy chief of staff. "And we've also made changes to existing programs. " Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said NIE has had a major impact on how DOD handles procurement. "NIE has helped us incorporate soldier feedback. That's the No. 1 most important thing we've gotten out of that, " Shyu said. "We now understand what we need to modify and change to improve utilization.... It has also shaped our acquisition strategy on a number of important programs. We have seen stuff out there that has changed our strategy. " --- Amber Corrin
November 15, 2013