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DCO’s Forge Can Mean Big Business for Industry

By Brittney M. Brown, Defensive Cyber Operations

Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) is stepping up its game to bring more vendors to the Army’s procurement table. The project manager (PM) is merging a new innovation center called the Forge, with its rapid and agile acquisition methodology known as the Cyber Operations Broad Responsive Agreement (COBRA) Other Transaction Authority (OTA).

The Forge is a centralized facility located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, used as a one-stop shop to identify, assess, integrate and procure defensive cyber prototypes. The prototypes are then delivered to cyber protection brigades (CPBs), which are charged with defending the Army’s network.

The facility is multifaceted. At times, it’s an industry tradeshow venue where vendors can showcase their products in response to DCO solicitations. In contrast to traditional tradeshows, however, companies receive on-the-spot evaluations by DCO personnel and stakeholders. By the end of an event, vendors are notified whether they can continue on in the solicitation process. A recent DCO tradeshow event, called the Forge Storm, attracted more than 200 industry participants.

DCO Forge Staff
Lt. Col. Scott Helmore, Product Manager Cyber Platforms and Systems, and Eric Barry, CPS IT Specialist, meet with a Forge Storm vendor on May 1, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Brittney Brown)

“The concept of the Forge Storm is a rarity,” said Christian Sorenson, an industry participant in the event. “We seldom have the exposure to directly discuss our products with end users. Today, we were able to tailor our conversations with stakeholders of what solutions we have to offer.”

In addition to stakeholder interaction, the Forge’s on-site contracting office may pique the interest of industry. The office, run by Army Contracting Command – Rock Island (ACC-RI), means vendors can leave events like the Forge Storm, with check in hand. ACC-RI is utilizing the COBRA OTA for the immediate purchase of prototypes, and is a critical element of the Forge construct.

“In cyber, we can’t afford to wait on long processes. We need industry solutions today,” said Joe Kobsar, director of Applied Cyber Technologies, which manages the Forge. “We’re enabled by the Forge and the COBRA OTA to get those capabilities into the hands of Soldiers today.

DCO Forge Vendor
A Forge Storm vendor prepares to demonstrate his company’s defensive cyber product. (U.S. Army photo by Brittney Brown)

As a result of the Forge-COBRA coalition, industry partners have witnessed tangible returns on investments. To start, DCO has awarded $24 million to industry in prototype procurements within the past 15 months. Since its inception in December 2018, the Forge has facilitated nearly $10 million of that total. DCO predicts that another $6 million will be awarded within the next two months. While traditional vendors have a place at the Forge, DCO is also looking to procure solutions from non-traditional contractors like start-ups or academia, as well.

“We’re changing the way we partner with industry,” said Col. Chad Harris, DCO project manager. “We’ve created a space that allows for true collaboration and an avenue to seek solutions from a variety of cyber experts.”

In addition to the CPBs, four other stakeholders have an ongoing presence at the Forge. They include the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, Army Training and Doctrine Command, the System of Systems Consortium and U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER)

DCO Forge Staff
DCO Forge staff discuss the integration of defensive cyber software into hardware platforms. (U.S. Army photo by Brittney Brown)

“Within a short timeframe, the Forge has already created opportunities for the government and private industry to collaborate, research and develop innovative practices to ensure ARCYBER has the right technology at the right time and timeliness is crucial to our mission,” said Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Mercado, ARCYBER technical advisor.

The Forge has been in initial operating capability since December 2018, and DCO hosted its official ribbon cutting for the facility on May 22, 2019.

Posted May 23, 2019

U.S. Army awards prototype to modernize recruiting

By IPPS-A

ARLINGTON, Va.--The U.S. Army awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $152 million agreement using its Other Transaction Authority on April 30 for a prototype project to modernize the recruitment and retention system used by the Army Accessions Enterprise (AAE).

The award marks the beginning of a three-year effort to develop, test and deploy the prototype system, named the U.S. Army Accessions Information Environment (AIE), to make recruiters more effective and efficient by allowing them to accomplish all tasks, using any device, anytime and anywhere.

“AIE will provide an enterprise level capability enabling transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the accessions workforce to acquire the best qualified talent,” said Col. Detrick Briscoe, AIE functional lead. “It will transform the way Soldiers are enlisted and commissioned while fulfilling in-service requirements and supporting and sustaining the enterprise. AIE represents the 'Soldier for Life’ model from the time you enter our Army until the time you separate or retire.”

The primary technical objective of the program is to use modern technology to support the approximately 25,000 users across the active, guard, reserve and ROTC communities by providing secure connectivity, reliability, data access and mobility.

Kevin Curry, the product director for the Army Human Resources System (AHRS), which falls within the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) program, is responsible for managing AIE and delivering a solution to the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

“The U.S. Army AIE is a development effort in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton that will result in a cloud-based solution employing leading-edge technology and placing it into the hands of our recruiters and leaders at all levels across the AAE” said Curry.

The agreement, effective May 15, includes a phased approach to develop, test and field the prototype solution. Phase one is scheduled to be complete in May of 2020, resulting in fielding a limited version of the prototype system to recruiters in public recruiting stations.

“The AIE will implement new business practices and fully integrate enterprise capability to acquire the best-qualified talent in supporting the Army's manning requirements and its end-strength goals,” said Curry. “I am excited about what this will do to transform the future of our Army and how we acquire its most valuable resource - the people who commit to serving this great nation.”

AHRS and IPPS-A are organizations within Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS). PEO EIS is responsible for managing and providing the information technology network and business systems that Soldiers and the U.S. Army need to operate every day. With a diverse portfolio of 37 program offices and 71 acquisition programs, PEO EIS supports and fields Army and DoD communications, logistics, medical, finance, personnel, training and procurement systems for all ten combatant commands.

Posted May 15, 2019