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Army Prepares Major Telecom Transition

By Roseanne Gerin
Special to the Washington Post
Monday, December 12, 2005

At $4 billion, the Infrastructure Modernization Program is one of the biggest Army information technology opportunities of 2006 -- and one of the biggest federal telecommunications awards.

The IMOD contract will modernize fiber-optic cable and wireless communications at Army bases and installations around the world. The contract has a five-year base term and one five-year option. As many as eight multiple-award contracts, including at least two for small businesses, will be issued under the IMOD program in April.

"It's the Army's chance to upgrade the facilities with the latest technology [and] the best solutions that create the most value," said Dan Bigbie, vice president of business development for government solutions at Lucent Technologies Inc. "Then, more importantly, they'll be able to make sure that their critical mission is supported."

Lucent has a prime contract under IMOD's predecessor contract and plans to bid on IMOD to continue its work for the Army.

The new contract will be crucial in helping the Army and the rest of the Defense Department move from traditional phone circuits to a Web-based system using voice over Internet protocol technology over the next few years, industry experts said. "We're going to see a transformation at just about every base and military installation around the country from the current circuit-switched technology to VOIP," said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc. of Jenkintown, Pa.

The IMOD contract is part of the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program (I3MP), a collection of voice, data, cable, long-distance gateway and enterprise management services for Army installations around the world. I3MP uses commercial products to replace "legacy" systems with a secure and integrated information system.

IMOD, which can be used by the Army and Defense Department agencies, is the successor to the $1 billion Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program, awarded in June 1997 and comprising 18 contracts held by 17 vendors. That contract provides telecommunications supplies, installations, and support for government and military organizations worldwide.

The new IMOD will include information technology services, storage area networks, options for leasing, information assurance, secure wireless solutions and cyber-net applications, said Steve Coughlan, senior director of the Army infrastructure services group at General Dynamics Network Systems Inc., and his colleague, Mark Robson, the company's director of business development for Army services. General Dynamics Network Services, a Massachusetts-based unit of General Dynamics Corp. of Falls Church, has a contract under the current program and plans to bid on IMOD as a prime contractor.

Industry observers said they expect bids on the IMOD contract from all of the contractors in the current program as well as a few other new companies that want to gain a foothold in Army telecom work. But Raymond Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer of Federal Sources Inc., said larger companies may not seek the contract because it contains quite a bit of low-margin work, such as building communications towers or substations on bases.

The military services are undertaking several big IT projects as part of the Defense Department's modernization and transformation program, of which IMOD is a part. Other big Army telecommunications contracts to be awarded in 2006 are for the $20 billion Information Technology Enterprise Solutions 2 Services (ITES 2S) and the $5 billion Worldwide Satellite Systems Program (WWSS).

IMOD's request for proposals was released Nov. 4, later than the planned June 30 issuance date. Interested vendors have until Wednesday to submit proposals. Awards were expected Thursday but now are estimated to come on April 27.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For more on this and other government contracts, go tohttp://www.washingtontechnology.com.

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