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Posted 3/5/2013

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By William Farrow
Huntsville Center

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.– Customers looking for streamlined acquisition approaches to purchasing information technology now have a centralized place where they can get their support.

At the end of FY12, the Huntsville Center’s Contracting Directorate noticed a surge in customer requests for procurement of information technology hardware, software and technical services.

With the landscape in IT procurements changing due to Department of Defense acquisition reforms aimed at improving procurement practices, many Defense Department entities were left scrambling to develop acquisition strategies for their IT requirements.

Huntsville Center already possessed a Special Projects Office to capture unusual projects passed down from other Center branches. In the fall, several IT projects surfaced and were forwarded to the SPO for execution. It was soon discovered the Center had prior experience in the IT arena and in the fall, the Information Technology Service Office was created to specialize in offering the DoD IT customers a robust program to meet their IT acquisition needs. 

“Caring for these customers under a specialized program was a natural fit to implement an optimal IT procurement strategy in the best interest of the government,” said Terry Patton, ITS program manager.

“We formed to directly support Defense Department customers by ensuring quality and oversight control throughout the life of the contract By leveraging our specialized IT acquisition experience and knowledge, our team prides itself in handling IT procurement from the ‘cradle to        the grave.’”

A specific benefit for using ITS is the fact that in the past, many DoD customers have used non-Defense Department contracts and agencies, such as General Service Administration—the federal agency that provides direct and assisted acquisitions for office space, goods and services to other federal agencies— to acquire IT.

To use non-Defense Department agencies for assisted acquisitions requires an internal waiver as well as a waiver to use a non-Defense Department contract vehicle.

Patton said he saw customers eager to streamline the process and avoid the waiver process, an important selling point among DoD customers; and in today’s world of ever evolving technology needs, a streamlined process is exactly what Scott Barnhart, ITS project manager, said seems to make ITS customers happy.

“Customers are surfacing to form a relationship with us,” Barnhart said.  

According Barnhart, the ITS suite of solutions provides customers access to thousands of commercial partners and unlimited variety in information technology solutions.

Additionally, ITS provides integrated services combining services, software and hardware into a single solution.

Barnhart recalls an ITS project with the PEO Missiles and Space, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., which came to ITS with specific  IT requirements.

“We noticed they also had a need for recurring, in-house IT services, so we provided a contracting vehicle for an annual multi-million dollar contract including more than 60 people to install and maintain their systems, combined all onto one contract,” he said.

Since the ITS office stood up last year, the word of their services has grown to include interest from other Defense Department customers.

In January, here in Huntsville, ITS conducted an Industry Day to exchange information about industry’s capability to provide sustainable, state-of-the-art, capability for the Defense Department’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program, the program using a network of supercomputing capabilities to support the research, development, test and evaluation community. Over the next five years, it’s expected the program will have acquisition needs reaching more than $700 million. 

Other customers ITS carries now are the Army Publishing Directorate and the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. Patton said ITS’s project management value is focused on Information Technology acquisition and financial management excellence.

“We pride ourselves in being extremely alert to our customer’s financial, contracting and legal counsel to ensure our customers’ requirements are met on time, within budget and at reduced risk, resulting in best value solutions,” he said. 

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