State to award $8B IT contract by end of June 2022

The United States Department of State is pictured in Washington, DC on August 6, 2021. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

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The State Department plans to award spots on what will be its largest IT services contract ever by the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2022, department officials announced Monday.

During a virtual industry day for the forthcoming EVOLVE IT contract, which has a ceiling of $8 billion, State IT acquisition officials said they hope to award pool one for general IT management services under the contract in the second quarter of fiscal 2022 and the remaining four pools — network services, cloud and data services, application and development, and customer and end-user support services — by the end of the following quarter.

The new contract will comprise the IT services met under State’s expiring Vanguard 2.2.1 contract as well as other future needs not met under that previous contract. SAIC won the Vanguard 2.2.1 in 2010 for $2.5 billion.

State will award up to six spots on each of those five pools, officials said during the industry day.

But that’s just the start, CIO Keith Jones explained. From there, “we will continuously align, issue and award task orders on scope covered by EVOLVE as necessary,” he said, emphasizing the importance of being flexible in the services procured under the contract.

“IRM’s foremost strategies surround fostering innovative, effective and interconnected diplomacy by constantly improving, modernizing and refreshing tools and services,” Jones said. “EVOLVE will enable IRM to continuously adapt to emerging technical opportunities and support the department’s emerging tech, customer-centric and modernization goals. EVOLVE will provide IT solutions to meet current and future department strategic goals.”

Jones reiterated that “this is the business that we’re all in,” describing the technology field’s nature of constant change and pointing to the need to revisit the department’s IT strategy in the near future due to that.

“Since we last developed a strategic plan, we’ve had [the SolarWinds hacking campaign], we’ve had supply chain issues, we’ve had new … executive orders pertaining to cybersecurity and, more recently, customer service,” he said. “I do want to share my conviction that we have been in similarly challenging circumstances previously. And just my time in government, we have confronted a number of major technological shifts that have dramatically changed the way we do tech … And for every occasion, the IT community responds and adapts to changes.”

Jones added that over the course of this contract, because of disruptions in the tech world, “policies and practices will need to change, hence our strongest interest in a flexible IT procurement approach and true partnerships moving forward.”

While EVOLVE was designed primarily to serve the needs of the State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management, the hope is that it will “be leveraged by all technology support organizations across the department” to procure common services instead of custom or “boutique” ones, Jones said.

Cybersecurity will be another key theme across the EVOLVE contract. There is no specific pool for cybersecurity services as State intends for contractors to deliver IT services with cybersecurity baked in.

“The State Department is a top targeted agency for cyberattacks,” said Glenn Miller, State’s principal deputy CIO. “Last year, we experienced 13 million virus blocks, 207 million blocked emails, 700 million security events and 3 billion blocks at the firewall. So I want to emphasize that cyber must be an integral part of every solution and daily operation going forward.”

Al Bowden, deputy CIO for information assurance, said State’s “expectation and our desire and challenge is how do we integrate appropriately and with precision cyber into all of the different evolve pools?” Bowden said that though the pools might not be explicitly cyber-related, “think about security …  and how would you execute and implement within those discrete pools with cyber in mind with an underlay and an undertone of cyber threat throughout.”

State released the draft request for proposals for the EVOLVE contract late last week. Now, the department plans to issue a final solicitation by the end of the calendar year.

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Cybersecurity, EVOLVE, Keith Jones, State Department
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