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Thomas Neff, former product lead at CHESS, said ITES-3S is likely to include cloud and cybersecurity requirements that weren’t around when ITES-2S was created in 2006.
ITES-3S will have the same basic mechanics that other CHESS contracting vehicles use. Namely, it is free for con- tracting officers to use, it relies on a decentralized ordering process, and it encourages agencies to drive a hard bargain for discounts with vendors.
In that sense, ITES-3S will draw on the institutional con- tracting knowledge CHESS has built through other vehicles.
Bargaining power
One of those vehicles is ITES-3 Hardware, which finalized its awards and began taking orders in February.
Under the $5 billion vehicle, “the prices are established on the contracts with each vendor...but there are additional discounts that are available,” said Deidre Harris, ITES-3H’s product leader, during a recent presentation to contract- ing professionals. “So we like to remind our contracting officers that they should negotiate even deeper discounts if possible.”
ITES-3H is a one-stop shop for buying desktops and notebooks en masse. The vehicle can also be used to buy products such as servers, routers and switches that can’t be acquired elsewhere, Harris said. Dell Federal Systems and HP are among the vendors selling products under the vehicle.
ITES-3H was set to replace its predecessor in 2014, but a series of bid protests delayed the program. It is meant to be all-encompassing for hardware, but requirements that don’t fall under the vehicle can be fulfilled through another CHESS program known as Army Desktop and Mobile Com- puting-2. ADMC-2 is hardware-focused and generally used to replace outdated products.
Refreshing tech
The Army was accepting bids for an ADMC-3 RFP until July 12. The new contract will allow agencies to order year-round rather than the twice-a-year arrangement for ADMC-2. That change, which vendors asked for, is meant to help the Army keep pace with advances in technology, said Stacy Watson, director of the CHESS Enterprise Solu- tions Division.
In addition, Harris said ITES-3H has a built-in refresh button “so as new products become available, the con- tractors can immediately put them on the contract, so you don’t have to wait three months or six months or a year for a new product.”
CHESS began making a reverse auction tool available for ADMC-2 in January to further increase savings. Offi- cials offer tutorials to help contracting officers who are unfamiliar with such auctions.
“Every buyer [has] their comfort level with a certain tool that they have been using,” said Sammi Foong, former acting product lead at CHESS and now product lead for the Army’s Force Management System. “So it’s a matter of converting that group of people into using it via CHESS.”
A cog in the wheel
CHESS is but one cog in a contracting wheel that must be well synced to work. There are no contracting offi- cers in CHESS; Army Contracting Command takes care of that. The Army CIO’s office and Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, meanwhile, provide policies and standards that CHESS must meet.
Harris said vendors have a big incentive for complying
“Every buyer [has] their comfort level
with a certain tool that they have been using. So it’s a matter of converting that group of people into using it via CHESS.”
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