by LTC Greg Coile, Ms. Danielle Kays and Mr. James Sawall
The Army is leveraging two tactical communications contracts to realize significant cost savings, even as it enables industry to fill needed mission requirements more efficientlyand effectively.
What the new Global Tactical Advanced Communication Systems (GTACS) and Common Hardware Systems (CHS) contracts have in common is that they both are intended to deliver tactical mission command and communications capabilities to programs of record (PORs); their purpose is to improve interoperability, compatibility and sustainability and to lower life-cycle costs on the battlefield by standardizing and centralizing acquisition of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology and non-developmental items. Both contracts are available to all DOD customers.
The GTACS and CHS contracts are managed by the project manager for Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (PM WINT) within the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T). PM WIN-T thus is poised to be the preferred provider of tactical COTS information technology (IT) for the Army modular force. PM WIN-T provides the communications network (satellite and terrestrial) and services that allow the Soldier to send and receive information in order to execute the mission.
GTACS and the CHS program complement each other, together delivering comprehensive tactical mission command and communications POR and theater-provided equipment capabilities to fill the requirements of Army units worldwide. PM WIN-T will use these
A FAR-REACHING CONTRACT
contract vehicles to provide economies of scale, lowering prices and total life-cycle system management costs.
The GTACS contract, awarded in October 2012, has a $10 billion ceiling, making it one of the largest that DOD plans to issue within the next few years. GTACS provides one-stop shopping for a wide variety of hardware and the services to support it. The contract’s range, flexibility and consolidation capabilities will enable the Army, DOD and other agencies to spend more efficiently and to provide the right capability rapidly to the battlefield.
GTACS provides centralized, competitive contracting to support PEO C3T in acquiring state-of-the-art solutions. PEO C3T develops, fields and supports fullynetworked capability sets, connecting the fixed command post to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier. GTACS covers the necessary hardware, software, equipment and data, with an emphasis on tactical satellite communications (SATCOM). During the five-year ordering period of the GTACS contract, the needs of PEO C3T are expected to evolve in response to emerging threats and changing battlefield requirements, and the GTACS contract is designed to provide the flexibility and responsiveness required to support the PEO C3T mission.
Slated as a replacement for the $5 billion World-Wide Satellite Systems (WWSS) contract, GTACS is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract. The GTACS contracting vehicle is even more flexible, efficient and competitivethan WWSS in delivering capability while balancing Soldier requirements and taxpayer resources.
GTACS is a base contract that PM WIN-T’s product manager for SATCOM will use to issue delivery and task orders. Instead of awarding multiple contracts, the Army can now efficiently award numerous delivery and task orders from a single contract. The GTACS source selection process resulted in an award to 20 prime contractors, compared with six on the WWSS contract. As primes, they can compete for the broad spectrum of work anticipated under the contract.
The increased number of vendors, both small and large contractors, is expected to provide the best solutions based on requirements. This large, multipleaward IDIQ contract type is expected to reduce administrative redundancy and provide cost savings as a result of increased competition.
Inherent within its design, GTACS includes a variety of contractors that can support any task the government requires, so long as it is within the scope of the Performance Work Statement. It allows for shortened timelines for awarding delivery and task orders, which in turn can save the government money while providing critical equipment and services to the Soldier in a timely manner.
GTACS was designed to manage a program’s entire life cycle and to have a broader scope than WWSS, including tactical radios or any other equipment that PEO C3T needs to complete its mission. The contract provides for three functional areas: research and development, production and deployment, and sustainment and logistics. This means that no matter where a capability is in the acquisition
INCREASING ECONOMIES OF SCALE WITH CHS
life cycle, the program office can use the GTACS contract to support its requirements. GTACS simplifies and consolidates the entire process by enabling the customer to develop a capability, then produce, test, field and sustain that capability with one contract.
This overarching coverage provides greater flexibility over the WWSS contract by including the research and development piece; thereby the program offices can cover the product’s entire life cycle. WWSS could be used only withproduction offered commercially, which then could be covered through sustainment. GTACS offers the increased flexibility to include commercial and noncommercial items from research and development all the way through to disposal.
Since 1987, the CHS program has been providing state-of-the-art computer and networking equipment for the battlefield. It offers a single interface for the ArmyMateriel Enterprise to the COTS IT industry to identify technologies that meet current capability gaps and follow-on requirements. Product Director (PD) CHS collaborates across the enterprise to develop solutions that satisfy requirements of multiple PEOs and PMs, and thereby reduce inefficient single-point-solution procurement, life-cycle sustainment costs and field-support manpower requirements. PD CHS implements large consolidated buys and economies of scale to reduce cost and accelerate procurement.
CHS increases efficiencies by applying a command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance enterprise-centric approach to streamlined technology insertions, saving execution time and accelerating delivery schedules at the point of need. It also delivers a common, global-reach, tactical COTS IT sustainment strategy and total life-cycle systems management capability, including regional depot support, extended warranties, rapid turnaround times and configuration management.
What distinguishes CHS from other contracts is that, through a single technology insertion or contractual modification, CHS can design, develop, modify, ruggedize, environmentally test, procure, sustain and provide configuration management under a single part number. The bigger POR managers such as PM WIN-T, PM Mission Command and PM Distributed Common Ground System – Army use CHS to fulfill their multiyear sustainment strategies, as bundling these services allows the PORs to control costs across the product life cycle.
In collaboration with its prime contractor, CHS will design and develop a system upfront to meet customer requirements without having to charge for nonrecurring engineering to research, design, developand test a new product. CHS ruggedizes hardware at three different levels and provides the environmental testing to ensure that the equipment meets its operational standards. Customers can choose a level of ruggedization based on environmental and mission requirements.
Sustainment is typically the largest lifecycle cost factor to consider in purchasing equipment for U.S. forces. The CHS contract provides an efficient means to maintain the hardware: a five-year warranty covering all hardware for defects in material or workmanship and for “fair wear and tear.” Warranty repairs or replacements are accomplished within a 72-hour repair turnaround at worldwide CHS regional support centers (RSCs). This approach gives customers the peace of mind of having a single number to call and a single turn-in point.
Configuration management is a critical function of the CHS package; it is provided to ensure cross-POR baseline management and system interoperability. CHS manages customers’ unique configurations and program baselines to ensure that the precise configuration is purchased in all subsequent buys, and that it can be used and integrated into other systems exactly as the initial equipment had been.
In the past, when purchasing large quantities of equipment from multiple contractors at different times, it was nearly impossible to receive the exact equipment in the same configuration that was originally purchased. That, in turn, can cause future integration, interoperability, training and user difficulties that increase cost. CHS also manages items reaching the end of life, and works with industry providers and PORs to ensure that replacement items fit within the configured design and operating environment. These efforts increase consistencyfor greater efficiency, as well as offering significant cost avoidance.
CHS customers also benefit from theCHS catalog. Once CHS places items onto the contract, that piece of hardware is available for purchase for the life of the contract, so the customer can buy it as many times as needed without going through a recompete for future procurement. If the customer does not need the benefits and services provided by CHS, other contract vehicles are available, such as PEO Enterprise Information Systems’ Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions (see related article on Page 120), or the U.S. Army Communications – Electronics Command’s Rapid Response, that might provide a better fit.
In a unified effort, PM WIN-T will leverage GTACS and CHS as much as possible to deliver and support needed capabilities, specifically with respect to supporting the Army’s Network Integration Evaluations and Capability Set development, and in delivering command post and mounted computing environments.
The GTACS and CHS teams envision further economies of scale by looking at opportunities to combine purchases, not just within PM WIN-T, but throughout PEO C3T and other defense organizations. PM WIN-T is also looking at ways to leverage and extend the CHS warranties and WIN-T’s RSC infrastructure for customers looking to use the GTACS vehicle. This strategy could provide tremendous cost savings through economies of scale, as there can potentially be one uniform logistics strategy for the entire PEO.
To remain relevant, ahead of its enemies and prepared for future operations, the Army must continue to deliver improved battlefield capability in the most
For more information, go to the PEO C3T website at http://peoc3t.army.mil/c3t/,
cost-effective manner possible. With this in mind, GTACS and CHS are designed to provide innovative and comprehensive solutions to increase the Army’s buying power while providing the latest technologies and lasting support to the Soldier.
or contact the PEO C3T Public Affairs Office at 443-395-6489 or usarmy.APG.email@example.com. For additional information for DOD employees, go to milWiki at
(Common Access Card login required).
LTC GREG COILE is PM WIN-T’s product manager for SATCOM. He holds a B.S. in government from Liberty University and an M.S. in program management from the Florida Institute of Technology. LTC Coile is Level III certified in program management and Level II certified in contracting. He is a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps (AAC).
MS. DANIELLE KAYS is PMWIN-T’s PD CHS. She holds a B.S in systems engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an M.B.A. from Norwich University. Kays is Level III certified in program management and Level III certified in systems, planning, research, development and engineering (SPRDE). She is a member of the AAC.
MR. JAMES SAWALL is the assistant program manager for the Commercial Satellite Terminal Program and is responsible for management of the GTACS contract. He holds a B.S. in engineering science and an M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Sawall is Level III certified in program management, Level III certified in SPRDE and a Certified Project Management Professional. He is an AAC member.