FBI Explores $30 Billion Move Into Stormy Cloud Market

In a government cloud market abuzz with concern about large, long awards to single-service providers and a perception that Amazon is dominating, the FBI is exploring a move to the cloud for its expiring $30 billion, eight-year enterprise information technology contract.

The Information Technology Supplies and Support Services (ITSSS) contract is a blanket purchase agreement on the General Services Administration’s government-wide IT multiple-award Schedule 70. It was let in 2010 to 46 companies in relative secrecy, according to a Dec. 21 report on Nextgov. On Nov. 9, the FBI issued notice that the deal will expire in October 2018.

Now, the FBI has asked industry to answer questions designed to help it determine whether moving the work under the ITSSS to the cloud is feasible. “The program objectives are to acquire platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) offerings,” according to the request for information issued Feb. 16. Responses are due March 2.

ITSSS supports the FBI’s criminal justice information systems and the entire Justice Department can use the contract, Nextgov reported in December.

“To meet the scale of the computing services required and ensure a continual infusion of service innovation, multiple government agencies may acquire services from an instantiation of a public cloud offering from an established cloud service provider with an existing, large scale public offering, installed on commercial premises and operated and maintained at the Secret classification level with technology refreshment by the provider as a service,” the RFI states.

It asks interested cloud providers whether they can provide two commercial, multi-tenant data centers more than 1,000 miles apart that can accomodate 50,000 users. It also seeks 99.9 percent uptime, 24x7x365 operation, and a connection from the data center to the FBI’s Secret network that doesn’t pass through the public Internet. The RFI also asks whether respondents can provide U.S. citizens with Secret clearances to enter the government firewalled space and manage the data center and the property. If not, it asks whether cloud service provider staff can be escorted by cleared personnel.

Spending on ITSSS is difficult to track since much of it is not publicly shared, Nextgov reported last year. It cited data from government market research firm Govini showing that Booz Allen Hamilton has collected $230 million under the contract. NTT Data, STG, IBM and Deloitte all made more than $200 million on ITSSS. But Govini found total publicly reported spending of only $2 billion despite the $30 billion ceiling.

In the summer of 2014, the 17-agency intelligence community (IC), of which the FBI is a member, began using a cloud solution provided by Amazon Web Service (AWS), the largest commercial cloud provider in the world, according to IT market analyst Gartner. The 10-year, $600 billion contract under the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) was hotly contested and only awarded after AWS won a lawsuit and IBM gave up its protest, The Atlantic reported in July 2014.

The FBI RFI comes amidst industry tumult over the Defense Department’s plans to move its unclassified, secret and top secret data to the cloud “in an aggressive, yet rigorous manner,” according to an Oct. 30 RFI. “DoD is seeking technical parity with commercial cloud, even if private or hybrid cloud services are part of the final solution.”

A Nov. 6 DOD strategy document obtained by Nextgov and other press outlets last December said DOD was planning a full and open single-award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with a single cloud service provider for up to 10 years. Groups including the Coalition for Government Procurement, Professional Services Council and others have said the RFI and other material about the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract gave the impression that DOD plans to move to just one cloud provider and that AWS has an unfair advantage, Inside Defense reported Dec. 6. Awarding the whole-DOD contract to one company risks locking the department into that supplier, making it hard to shift to one or more others in the future, the groups said.

DOD responded in a Feb. 15 press release. “The referenced JEDI document does not mention sole source award; it mentions a single award. This is one of many draft documents used to spark discussion and debate in an effort to determine the acquisition strategy that will best meet the Department’s requirements. Most importantly the CESG is still in the analysis and fact finding phase of this process to determine how many contracts will best meet DoD’s needs.” More information about JEDI will be presented at a March 7 industry day.

Adding to industry concerns is the $950 million, five-year cloud transition contract DOD awarded Feb. 8 using a streamlined, specialized fast procedure, another transaction agreement, outside the federal procurement rules. The agreement went to “REAN Cloud LLC, an Amazon Web Services LLC consulting partner and reseller, in a move that may tip DOD’s hand regarding its strategy for the highly anticipated, multibillion-dollar JEDI cloud contract,”Bloomberg Government reported Feb. 8.

“With the production OTA award, REAN Cloud will support USTRANSCOM and other DoD organizations to quickly migrate legacy applications to a government-approved, commercial cloud environment of their choice,” REAN said in announcing the award.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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