DISA puts finishing touches on GSM, FCSA contracts

DISA is slated to award contracts for the Future Commercial Satellite Communications Services Acquisition and Global Information Grid Services Management programs in early 2012.

Early in 2012, DISA is slated to make contracts awards for the Future Commercial Satellite Communications (SATCOM) Services Acquisition (FCSA) and Global Information Grid (GIG) Services Management (GSM) programs.

GSM-Operations (GSM-O) is in final source selection with an award expected in January or February, said Bruce Bennett, DISA’s program executive officer for communications. GSM‑O, a fixed-price, performance-based program with incentives based on cost and performance, will provide day-to-day operations and sustainment to include provisioning, network operations, user selected services and integrated operations support services of the GIG.

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The overall GSM acquisition has three parts, with GSM-O being the largest of the three procurements and one of the biggest DISA contracts planned over the next few years – worth about $4.6 billion.

“GSM is infinitely more flexible with a broader base of vendors and more safeguards against conflicts of interest,” Bennett said. “It’s better all around than the legacy contracts.”

Another much-anticipated DISA award in early 2012 is FCSA Custom Satcom Solutions (CS2), which is in final source selection with an award expected by the first of the calendar year. CS2, the third and final piece of the $5 billion DISA/General Services Administration-administered FCSA, is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for three base years with two one-year options worth between $80 million and $100 million per year.

“FCSA is allowing us to bundle more requirements together so that we can get a larger buy, leveraging more on commercial industry, reducing risks, and all that results in reduced cost,” Bennett said.

CS2 represents a significant change in DISA’s way of procuring communications services by ending short-term stopgap measures and promoting fully integrated end-to-end solutions. Under this new approach, CS2 customers define the requirements and contractors engineer custom solutions.

DISA is also trying to take a new approach to supporting SATCOM requirements through its Assured SATCOM Services in Single Theater (ASSIST) program. ASSIST is a proposed 15-year, $440 million leasing effort designed to increase flexibility and responsiveness to meet emerging mission requirements while reducing costs.

The goal of ASSIST is to leverage current commercial satellite production to produce inexpensive commercial satellite-based platforms for Defense Department use. The satellite assets would then be used to reduce DOD’s commercial satellite leases.

“Our initial analysis showed that we could return the cost of the satellite in two-and-a-half years based on current lease costs,” said Bennett. “The average life of a satellite being 12 to 15 years, that would then allow DOD to have complete savings on all those leases for three to 12 years with potential savings of $800 million.”

DOD currently spends $270 million each year on commercial satcom leases in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, and ASSIST could replace somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of the commercial leases in the Central Command theater. However, Bennett is not optimistic that ASSIST will get off the ground.

“ASSIST is currently on hold awaiting final congressional approval and funding,” he said. “It’s just a really tight fiscally constrained environment right now and the problem is to make ASSIST work you need the money upfront. It’s a big hunk of money and that scares a lot of people on [Capitol] Hill.”