Was GIG-BE Process Flawed?

A handful of government personnel are objecting to the process by which the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has procured fiber and equipment for its Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) project, which recently entered a new phase (see GIG-BE Winners Named).

Representatives Martin T. "Marty" Meehan (D-Mass.) and James "Jim" Saxton (R-N.J.) say they're concerned that DISA's use of a contractor, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), to handle the selection process has been "irresponsible."

According to Meehan spokesperson Kimberly "Kimberly" Abbott, Meehan believes the "whole bidding process wasn't as fair and open as it could have been," because a contractor, not the government itself, was in control. Meehan isn't, she says, questioning the competence of SAIC.

Reports of the congressmen's objections surfaced in the Lowell, Mass., Sun newspaper last week, but they go back to August 12, when Saxton, who chairs the subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities for the House Armed Services Committee, and Meehan, who serves on Saxton's subcommittee, penned their objections to John P. Stenbit, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Stenbit's in charge of the GIG-BE process, holding the august title of "GIG-BE Milestone Decision Authority."

In their letter to Stenbit, the two congressmen claimed "dismay" over DISA's allocation of the procurement process for GIG-BE to non-DOD contractors. They cited the need for GIG-BE to be "designed to the most exacting standards, carefully tested in rigorous stress conditions, and the procurement overseen by knowledgeable and engaged DOD officials." None of that occurred, they stated.

Abbott says Meehan and Saxton's letter was undertaken on behalf of all members of their subcommittee.

Stenbit responded on August 26 that he felt the GIG-BE procurement process had been done in accordance with "all applicable DoD and Federal acquisition laws" and with full involvement of government officials, including himself, at all junctures. Multiple tests of chosen IP and ATM technologies are planned and on schedule, he indicated.

Abbott says Meehan and Saxton are considering their next move. Betsy Flood, a spokesperson for DISA, says the agency supported Stenbit's response to the congressmen.

But at least one analyst thinks it's not likely the GIG-BE process will halt or unravel. "Everybody thinks SAIC did a fantastic job," says Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects, a telecom consultancy based in Washington. In his view, it's possible that vendors who either didn't get as much of the contract as they wanted, or else were left out entirely, have turned to various legislators for support. It's a case of sour grapes, he says.

There are indications that some vendors turned to representatives for help, particularly since they weren't told why they hadn't been chosen at one juncture or another. In a letter addressed to the CEO of SAIC that cc'd Stenbit on August 7, Representative John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) asked that SAIC "revisit" its decision not to include Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) in its "bake-off" of chosen products.

"I am informed that there was significant strength shown on the face of Lucent's proposal, and thus am puzzled by SAIC's decision," Tierney states in the letter. He also indicates that leaving out Lucent "has left parties in need of clarification of the process, which could, should the decision stand, have an outward appearance of being arbitrary and driven by unknown factors."

SAIC did not immediately respond to inquiries about the matter. A Lucent spokesperson said the company declined to comment.

At Meehan's office, Kimberly Abbott says Meehan's objections weren't made with any vendors in mind, since both winners and losers have offices in his district, which covers Lowell, Boxborough, Chelmsford, and other Massachusetts locations known for hosting technology firms.

Back at DISA, Flood has news that may come as some consolation: She says vendors will be debriefed about why they were or weren't chosen "after the hardware selection process is concluded in December."

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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airguard 12/5/2012 | 12:57:41 AM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? gea,

Just shut up. You obviously do not know what your talking about..!
romeo-foxtrot 12/4/2012 | 11:22:33 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? "knowledgeable and engaged DOD officials" - what an oxymoron.

Considering that:

a) in the USA given the financial rewards of a government compared to the private sector (especially in telecom), most people at the DOD will thus not be the sharpest tools around, and....

b) the generally lacking state of US education compared to other 1st world countries

then one would have to dispute that the DOD has any officials qualified to run the GIGBE RFQ, let alone sift through the expected over-positioning of product capabilities expected by all the vendors involved.

CoolLightGeek 12/4/2012 | 11:22:32 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? glasstotheass-

Your attempt at LU analysis is sorely lacking: get a clue and try a better handle.

Unless you work for SAIC, its best to limit your analysis to what you know: I assume that's anal inspections.

glasstotheass 12/4/2012 | 11:22:32 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? Gotta get your money's worth from those political "contributions."

Technically, there's no foundation for their argument.
DMX looks to be hot sh*t, but not ready for prime time. The Extreme Team is extremely gutted. Lambda Unite is promising, however, but it's a tough race against the CoreDirector and Sycamore's Sleazy Sales Snakes.

This is what Lucent gets for dropping a product cycle (haven't they learned their lesson?).

solver 12/4/2012 | 11:22:31 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? --------------
"Everybody thinks SAIC did a fantastic job," says Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects, a telecom consultancy based in Washington.
Hmmm, I wonder how he deduced this conclusion. Was he heavily involved in it as a "consultant"?
Did he think the 1 year and 3 month that it took for DISA/SAIC/AT&T to arrive at a field trial vendor list was impressive?
Did he not find it contradictory that the RFP asked for cutting edge high capacity integrated technology and walked away with a bunch of 3 year old boxes from vendors with completely different backgrounds?

LR, please ask Mr. Dzubeck to shed some insight.

The only conclusion that I can come up is the following:
Cisco used its marketing and political influence to muscle its way into the deal from the get-go;
Ciena low-balled its way past its competition;
Sycamore... ummm, uhhh, well, aside from the whole pile of cash they have, and a give away price, it's difficult to understand how they can be picked over their competition.
BuckStopsHere 12/4/2012 | 11:22:30 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? Glass where?

You sound like Macho Man Randy Savage at Wrestlemania IV. READY FOR PRIME TIME, OOOOHHHH YEEEAAAAHHHH BBBAAAAABBBBBYYYY!!!!!

Get a life.
SIVROCX 12/4/2012 | 11:22:28 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? Since the award was anounced, I have sat on the deck trying to contemplate the definition of Leading Edge Technology. There is no past definition that came to mind that fit the current outcome. I think the DISA definition of leading edge technology is as follows:

Leading Edge Technology = Leading Edge of the Trailing Technology

At least the definition contains all three words. :(
linearefekt 12/4/2012 | 11:22:28 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? I think DISA would rather refer to it as:

Leading Edge Technology = Trailing Edge of the Leading Technology. Still all 3 words.

linearefekt 12/4/2012 | 11:22:28 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? ahhh Sycamore....

Well, it appears Sycamore came in with great pricing and its arguably a very solid box though a bit long in the tooth. Why'd they win? You gotta spread the wealth...Ciena winning OTS meant CoreDirector couldn't win the ODXC and I'd take Sycamore over Lucent any day of the week. Can't blame SAIC for that.

Times are tough, 4 different winners for 4 different categories and integration and cohesive management be damned! Besides, don't we all have latent Marxist tendencies.


gea 12/4/2012 | 11:22:27 PM
re: Was GIG-BE Process Flawed? Solver wrote...

"Did he not find it contradictory that the RFP asked for cutting edge high capacity integrated technology and walked away with a bunch of 3 year old boxes from vendors with completely different backgrounds?"

Solver...it at least sounds like you worked for Corvis or whatever.

SAIC has a long/deep history with the US military and government. You can bet that the way they did things would be fairly close to DARPA/DISA liking.

As for "leading edge", 3 year-old boxes is pretty close. I really doubt the government would deploy boxes that haven't had any real field-hardening or go with a totally new networking concept (I was suprised that they were even considering ULH).

Also, I don't necessarily see that SAIC made any decisions about who got chosen. SAIC ran the eval. process, and I'm sure military big-wigs made the final choice (with informed guidance, I'll grant).

Nah...even if SAIC hadn't organized things the results would probably have been similar, if not the same.
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