Following the award of its Commercial Cloud Enterprise, or C2E, contract in late 2020 to five major cloud service providers, the intelligence community is primed to bid out another contract to maximize the integration, management and efficiency of its cloud journey.
Speaking this week at Nextgov’s National Security Forum, Acting IC Chief Information Officer Mike Waschull said the Central Intelligence Agency “is approaching the release of the request for proposals” for its Cloud Investment Multi-cloud Management, or CIMM, effort. Through the RFP, the IC will select a systems integrator that will ultimately decide which commercial cloud solutions through C2E best meet the specific requirements of various intelligence agencies.
It’s “a revolutionary approach to making the best possible decisions from a technical perspective and business perspective, on which attributes of which cloud will meet the intelligence community’s needs most effectively,” Waschull said. “The attributes and capabilities and limitations of different cloud providers provide an almost kaleidoscopic kind of environment, such that we have to have a deep understanding to make the right decisions about which cloud, where, to do what with. That’s huge for us, and we’re really looking forward to having that capacity in place.”
The CIA first began its cloud journey in 2013 issuing a single-award cloud contract called C2S to Amazon Web Services. Unlike C2S, C2E is a multi-award contract, with awardees AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Google slated to compete for various task orders. The contract could be worth “tens of billions” over a long as 15 years, according to procurement documents from 2019.
Contractually, Waschull said the IC has structured CIMM to prohibit the winning awardee from participating as a subcontractor in any work undertaken by cloud service providers through C2E, thereby removing potential conflicts of interest. The effort builds on significant legwork undertaken by the CIA Cloudworks Program Management Office, which, for example, opted to build in award and incentive fees into task orders. Waschull said the approach—counter to a cost-plus fixed fee contract, which is easier to administer—incentivizes “deep creativity and collaboration, which is one of our core values here.”
“When you’re dealing with five formerly pure competitors that viewed each other as essentially jockeying for market share, if you will, in an environment of cost-plus fixed-fee, it doesn’t lend itself to building collaboration,” Waschull said. Under an award-fee incentive-fee approach, Waschull said, “you have a built-in motivator” that “promotes the kind of thinking that will allow these former competitors to work together as a team.”
Waschull said cloud computing will figure heavily into intelligence agencies’ missions, bringing to bear data oceans from a growing mix of classified and open-source sources. In addition, cloud will help the IC retire legacy systems and hardware “that is approaching end of life or is not commercially patched by providers and vendors and therefore poses a vulnerability to us that we need to manage,” Waschull said.
“We’re looking real hard at the data centers that we have and where it’s appropriate, we’re trying to bring those to closure, if you will, and retire them in favor of moving to the commercial cloud,” Waschull said.