As of July 1, the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6 became responsible for providing waivers for customers seeking to procure commercial-off-the-shelf information technology from alternative sources.
Previously, waivers were granted by the Army’s designated primary source for commercial information technology, known as IT, the Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, or CHESS, program office within the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, known as PEO EIS. This change will bring the Army one step closer to the goal of ensuring visibility and accountability of all IT expenditures throughout the Army. While CHESS will no longer grant waivers, it will provide statements of non-availability to customers confirming that the capabilities needed are not a part of a current CHESS contract. Army organizations with a statement of non-availability will then be required to obtain a waiver from the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6 or CIO/G-6.
With the signing of the policy memorandum on June 6, 2013, the Secretary of the Army formalized the collaborative effort lead by the CIO/G-6 to help the Army better track all IT expenditures across the force. Maintaining direct alignment to the Army’s Information Technology Management Reform and Army Request for IT efforts, the new policy will ensure that all requests for purchases outside of the CHESS program are vetted using the Goal 1 Waiver, or G1W, website. This effort will ensure customer compliance with Army policies, as well as capture more details about the amount and type of funding being executed outside of the CHESS program.
By combining the data collected from the G1W and the existing sales data available from CHESS contracts, the Army will improve the visibility into total IT spending. The additional level of review will also serve to strengthen the AFARS 5139.101 requirement to use CHESS, resulting in increased cost savings, as well as reducing the potential of items that do not meet the network or security standards from being purchased.
There are two exceptions to the policy memorandum, the United States Military Academy and Non-Program Executive Officer/Project Manager managed Military Intelligence Program systems. Both of these organizations will provide periodic reports containing the information required to obtain the visibility into Army IT spending.
On July 1, 2013, visitors to the CHESS website will see a “Statement of Non-Availability” section in place of the previously titled “Waiver” section. While the titles change, for customers the overall process and request form will remain the same. In an effort to reduce lead time in the process, CHESS has created a new Request for Information, or RFI, tool.
This tool will replace the existing Request for Quote or Request for Proposal tool to determine if a product or service cannot be offered by a CHESS contract. Through the RFI tool, CHESS expects industry partners to more rapidly respond to questions about scope and availability by removing the need to provide a formalized response with pricing information.
CHESS and the CIO/G-6 IT Investments Division will continue to coordinate on efforts to increase synchronization between the CHESS website and the Goal 1 Waiver system and reduce as much administrative duplication as possible.
The migration of the waiver approval for commercial-off-the-shelf, or COTS, IT purchases outside of the CHESS program to the CIO/G-6 represents a significant change in business process for the Army. Like any change in process, this change could potentially impact procurement plans for the end of the fiscal year. However, it also reflects the kind of change that is needed to achieve the increased visibility, cost savings, and improved network security required by the Army directive to achieve IT Management Reform.
In anticipation of questions, CHESS and CIO/G-6 have attached a list of anticipated frequently asked questions and answers.