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DISA Case Study: Increased Collaboration Through Digitized Services

This article is an excerpt from a recent research brief with Appian, Accelerating Government Transformation With IT, which includes a survey of 178 public-sector professionals who identified the challenges, best practices and importance of adopting digital transformation solutions.

DISA provides advanced information technology and immediate communications support to the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, military services, and combatant commands. From its Ft. Meade, Md., headquarters and through worldwide field activities, DISA offers solutions and enhanced capabilities that enable customers to make rapid decisions, using real-time information, and to turn these decisions into critical strategic, operational, and tactical actions.

DISA needed to improve efficiency, drive automation, and replace disparate and aging legacy systems that supported the DISA procurement processes. The agency wanted increased collaboration through a single web-based system for customers, contracting, vendors, and administrators, to manage all pre-award, award, and post-award activities. To meet their objectives, DISA had to overcome a procurement process hampered by separate manual paper checklists, separate logins to all subsystems and contract documents that had to be manually edited and filed by the contracting staff.

Using the Appian BPM platform, DISA created the Integrated Defense Enterprise Acquisition System (IDEAS). IDEAS is an end-to-end solution that perfectly fits DISA’s unique procurement processes, while connecting procurement operations, systems, and DISA personnel in a collaborative, process-driven procurement framework that meets DoD standards. The new system benefits from single sign-on, the elimination of separate checklists (a problem alleviated by well-tailored processes), automated routing of actions to the appropriate personnel, auto-generated documents from standards based system data (eliminating document errors and poor data translation), and dramatically reduced sustainment costs.

The IDEAS solution supports both comprehensive telecommunication acquisition functionality as well as providing DISA with a traditional contracting platform to replace their use of the DoD Standard Procurement System (SPS). The IDEAS solution is a FAR/DFARS compliant system backed by the DPAP Procurement Data Standard (PDS). The flexibility of the Appian solution allowed DISA to account for agency uniqueness while maintaining government compliance. For example, DISA telecommunication acquisition includes process and data requirements unique from standard acquisition practices, including location data attributes; numbering exceptions; unique pricing structures to account for monthly recurring and non-recurring charges; complex proration; tariff management; and the use of telecom specific government forms for solicitations, awards, and modifications. Traditional solutions would have required DISA to use workarounds or costly customizations to meet the agency’s requirements, while IDEAS is able to account for these unique challenges without compromise.

The Appian BPM solution has allowed DISA to drive improvements in productivity and work quality by automating complex agency processes and providing real-time access to critical government information and applications. The new system includes the following productivity enhancements:

  • Single sign-on using CAC
  • Automated checks and filing for System for Award Management (SAM – CCR, EPLS, ORCA), Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS-NG), Federal Business Opportunities (FBO), and Electronic Document Access (EDA)
  • Single system for receiving requisitions, creating solicitations, and issuing awards
  • Automatic routing based on procurement characteristics (e.g., contract, location)
  • Standardized processes across distributed DISA offices
  • Automated reporting of financial impacts to legacy DISA finance system
  • Integration of 12 systems into the new application as part of the implementation, with Appian providing a front end to all of them, greatly simplifying work for hundreds of procurement officers and specialists

DISA now has the flexibility to easily adapt to meet changing requirements. Built on the Appian BPM Suite, Appian’s federal procurement solution provides fully integrated process, knowledge, and analytics functionality to drive quantifiable return on investment (ROI) for the agency. For example, DISA estimates that its operating and maintenance (O&M) costs have been reduced to one fifth of prior-year budget allocations.

Download the full report here

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