Commentary: Why a World War 2 contracting practice is the best way to build a Federal cloud

“Realistically, the federal government does not have the critical technical and business expertise to manage and operate a federal cloud, nor do the standard FAR-based acquisition rules support acquisition of this type of technology. We need to adopt a management and operating contract model if we want to modernize the federal government in the most expedient, cost effective way possible without sacrificing quality…”

“The M&O contract was pioneered by the Department of Energy. The model dates back to World War II and the Corps of Engineers’ Manhattan Engineer District. It was designed to ensure the recruitment of world-leading scientific and technical talent, and the successful completion of the mission at hand—to win the war. This is how the atomic bomb was developed. The bomb was not built by the government. It was built by industry and academia under project management of the Army Corps of Engineers. We need to treat cloud adoption the same way.

How Would a M&O Model be Executed?

The idea behind an M&O contract is simple – it is essentially a government-owned, contractor operated (GOCO) model with the following characteristics:

  • The contractor would assume technical and business responsibilities under a broad statement of work with a requirement that is continuing with no foreseeable end.
  • The contractor would be responsible for integration of technical, business, and infrastructure functions and would perform the technical, business, and integration functions with its own workforce which would remain on site despite changes in contract
  • Every M&O contract for this work would operate like a joint venture and the JV is sold to the winner of the following contract which are typically multi-decade awards.
  • The contractor’s entity or JV may only perform work for the federal government and may only accept work from the federal government.
  • The federal government oversees the security, health, and safety of the contractor’s site(s) which would function essentially as large government owned facilities after contract award.
  • The budget is tied to the acquiring department’s budget and all accounting systems are tied to the department…” Read the full article here.

Source: Why a WW2 contracting practice is the best way to build a federal cloud – By James Farley, June 7, 2021. Washington Technology.


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