Lessons from Lockheed's $4.6B DISA GIG contract

Winning the job to manage DISA's Global Information Grid was big for Lockheed Martin. We get an inside look at how the company took over from the incumbent, and converted the work to a performance-based contract.

More than two years in the making, and possibly worth $4.6 billion, the capture of the Global Information Grid Services Management Operations contract last year was a highlight for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Information Systems and Global Solutions business.

They technically won the contract in May 2012 to manage the infrastructure of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Global Information Grid, or GIG, but a protest by incumbent Science Applications International Corp. delayed the start of the contract until October.

I didn’t even have to ask Angela Heise, the Lockheed executive in charge of the contract, about how the transition went. Moving the work from SAIC to Lockheed is now over, and Heise, vice president of enterprise information technology solutions, defense, for Lockheed IS&GS, is bursting with pride.

“It has gone very, very well,” she told me at a Lockheed media briefing.

She even includes SAIC in her praise. “They were very gracious to us,” Heise said. “They were very focused on making the sure the customer’s mission was supported, and it’s an important mission.”

The GIG is used by the Defense Department and military commands across the global for voice, video and data transmissions -- information on everything from command and control operations to paying the warfighters travels across the infrastructure.

When we had a chance to talk one-on-one, I asked Heise for lessons learned from the contract and the transition.

A couple things to note: the new contract, which goes by the acronym GSM-O, for Gig Services Management-Operations, is huge: 7,800 devices, millions of users and global reach. The Lockheed contract also moves from a cost-plus and time and material structure to performance-based with more than 70 service-level agreements that need measuring and management. As part of their bid, Lockheed guaranteed it would hire 85 percent of the incumbent work force or over 500 people.

Obviously, there were plenty of moving parts, so Heise walked me through Lockheed’s process.

Contract Initiation Review

Step one was conducting a contract initiation review with DISA, and with the commanders that GIG serves. This was a two-week, face-to-face review.

“We went over the goals and how to achieve them. What we saw as the risks and where we would need their help,” she said.

And DISA did the same. “The acquisition started over two years ago, so they went over how the network was different. It had grown a lot and changed a lot,” Heise said.

The customer listed things to worry about, and other watch items for Lockheed.

“That contract initiation review was a significant milestone because it sets the state for the partnership going forward,” Heise said.

Phased Transition

Lockheed used a phased transition approach, starting with the networks supporting operations in the contiguous United States or CONUS before moving out to the rest of the globe.

“CONUS is the biggest entity, but because we were also doing operations convergence [Lockheed has migrated four network operations centers] and a lot of the scope of work was coming back to CONUS, that was the best place to start,” she said. “We wanted to get CONUS right first.”

As this approach progressed, Lockheed would hold operational readiness reviews with the commands, where they would walk commanders through the transition, and they could give the plan a thumbs up or thumbs down, she said.

Some of the commands involved in addition to DISA CONUS are DISA Europe, DISA Pacific, and DISA Central in both Bahrain and Tampa, Fla.

Staff Transition

As part of its plan to take on SAIC employees, Lockheed held open houses and conducted interviews. “We wanted to make sure we were selecting the right talent,” she said.

“We have a very strong on boarding process, and we used a lot of communications,” Heise said.

Performance-based requirements

One of the biggest changes for the staff is the shift to a performance-based contract, which required putting more tools and processes in place.

“A lot of tools were there, but they weren’t set up for performance-based contracting,” she said.

Part of it is training – this is what you’ll be measured on, here are when time stamps are going to be taken. “We have to measure every element of the process,” she said.

Lockheed has to meet a requirement of responding and fixing any issue within 18 hours, Heise said.

Right now, a lot of the processes are manual, but over the next two years, the processes will be automated.

Converging operations and cost savings

The goals of the contract include converging operations so DISA customers get the same experience anywhere in the world. All of the commands were doing things differently in the past, Heise said.

And, of course, lowering costs and delivering more capabilities is paramount.

The contract has a high profile within Lockheed and DISA. DISA Director Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr. and Lockheed Martin IS&GS Executive Vice President Sondra Barbour exchange emails every week. Barbour is Heise’s boss’s boss.

“Our partnership with our teammates, AT&T and Xerox, has been vital,” she said. “We are glad the transition is over but there is still work to be done.”