Thursday, December 22, 2011

Problems With the Army E-Mail Migration

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2012 offers guidelines how the Congress wishes the Army’s e-mail consolidation efforts to be managed. From a policy standpoint, the Act offers detailed instructions what should be done:

1. The Secretary of the Army shall designate the consolidation of enterprise email services as an acquisition program. There would be an Army acquisition executive with decision authority. That role may not be delegated. That is counter to the current arrangement where DISA is performing the program management role.
2. None of the funds for the email consolidation may be obligated or expended until the Secretary of Army submits to the congressional committees a report on the acquisition strategy including certification that existing and planned efforts comply with the existing regulations regarding competitive procurement. This is contrary to the current situation where about 300,000 email seats have been already migrated by DISA as an extension to the existing Microsoft system.
3. The Secretary of Army report must include: A description of the formal acquisition oversight body; an assessment by the acquisition oversight body of the sufficiency and completeness of the current requirements; analysis of competitive alternatives, including commercial offerings; an assessment by the Army Audit Agency to determine what are the cost savings and cost avoidance expected from each of the alternatives; an assessment of the technical challenges in the implementation of the selected approach; completion of a security assessment; a certification by the Secretary of the Army that the selected approach is in the best technical and financial interests; demonstration of the     maximum amount of competition possible in the choice of vendors; a detailed accounting of the current funding expended so far as well as an estimate of the funding needed to complete the entire program.  This additional documentation leaves the Army’s email program without mandated policy-level coverage.
4. The DoD CIO will submit to the Congress: An assessment of how the migration of the Army’s email system to DISA fits within the DoD’s strategic information technology plans; a description of how the DoD CIO would address the email needs of the other military departments for interoperability; what plans are in place to include other military departments in consolidating the email; a description of the degree to which open competition will be used to modernize its entire infrastructure to which the Army is migrating its email services; a description of the roadmap detailing when the DoD enterprise architecture will be upgraded.

SUMMARY
The congressional policy-level instructions regarding the ongoing Army’s email consolidation efforts are detailed in every respect. Congress finds it now suitable to stop further progress as actual migration to a DISA managed environment is progressing. Congress has also imposing demands on the DoD CIO, which are hard to execute without budgetary authority and with current staffing.

Even though the policies, as demanded by Congress, are consistent with prior OSD policy memoranda, their enforcement was never implemented. In the past the Services and Agencies have been able to launch programs based on their own initiatives because the funding was controlled at their level. That was changed in the case with the Army’s email consolidation effort, where the Army and DISA proceeded on the basis of bilateral agreements, without policy cover from OSD, OMB or Congress.

The Army will find it difficult to comply with the elaborate list of Congressional demands.  There still remain technical issues whether the current rapid pace of implementation is within the capabilities of DISA and its contractors.

Congress now added to an Army problem the demand on the OSD CIO to also consider the consolidation of email for all of DoD as well as the upgrading of the DoD enterprise architecture.

It appears that the existing partially implemented Army email solution is facing insurmountable obstacles in proceeding. The outcome is not certain.

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