In 2013, infrastructure consolidation and interoperability will drive how the Defense Department spends its information technology budget, but companies might find growth in the area of tactical communications, said an analyst.
The department’s procurement strategy will likely be predicated on products that meet specifications at the lowest price possible, said Tim Larkins, immixGroup’s defense market intelligence consultant.
“What they’re trying to get here is functional, affordable technology,” he said. “If you are not the lowest price, then you have to justify why the government should be purchasing your product or service.”
But Larkins said there are still opportunities for IT-related growth. As the war in Afghanistan draws down, support for special operators’ tactical communications devices will be increasingly important and likely spared from cuts.
The Defense Information Systems Agency’s information technology budget rose about 2 percent. The agency posted a bid for proposals in October for a mobile device management platform to help keep its network secure.
Another possible area of growth is cloud computing. “Twenty percent of the IT budget is a target for cloud-related technology,” Larkins said.
The department is also seeking to eliminate redundant networks and consolidate data centers. Since 2010, it has closed 380 of its 770 data centers, and it will eliminate another 315 in 2013, he said.
Consolidation is the trend across all branches. Two examples are the Navy’s Consolidated Afloat Networks Enterprise Service (CANES), which will streamline shipboard networks, and the Air Force Network (AFNET) program to bring together the service’s terrestrial networks.
The Army is “really working hard at identifying these installation processing nodes or IPNs...and these are essentially just single data centers that are going to perform the functions that five or 10 separate data centers used to provide,” he said.
The department will also be looking for other ways to cut costs, such as consolidating contracts and leasing products from companies instead of purchasing them.
The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget request allocated $78.9 billion for federal IT spending, a 0.7 decrease from the fiscal 2012 budget. The Defense Department was slated to get about $37 billion of that.
Larkins said the actual allocation will probably be less than the requested amount because of Congress’ continuing resolution, which puts new starts on hold until a budget is passed. Larkins thinks it’s more likely, however, that Congress will pass another series of continuing resolutions when the first one expires in March, which wipes out the possibility for new programs this year.Photo Credit: iStockphoto