Pivoting to multi-vendor approach, Army eyes data platform awards in late 2023

Pivoting to multi-vendor approach, Army eyes data platform awards in late 2023
Under Secretary of the Army, Hon. Gabe Camarillo visits Fort Bliss

The 1st Armored Division commanding general, Maj. Gen. James P. Isenhower III speaks with the Under Secretary of the Army, Hon. Gabe Camarillo after an aerial tour of Castner Range, August 16, 2022. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jesse Anderla 1st Armored Division via DVIDS)

WASHINGTON — The Army this year is planning to award multiple vendors a spot on its largest data analytics platform used across the entire service enterprise, a break from the single-vendor approach the service has used in the past and an attempt to be more IT agile.

Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo said on Thursday at the AFCEA Army IT Day that the service is “currently working through” a request for information and draft requirements for the re-compete of the decision-making platform, called Vantage.

“First, continued progress on the data products and support for soldiers,” Camarillo said of his priorities this year. “You know, we’re not taking a step back in any way on our push for unlocking our data and data-driven decision making. We’re going to pursue a multi-vendor approach that allows for best-in-breed industry approaches, and allows us to tailor the products for the specific use cases. 

“And I think this is really important… [there will be] a new governance process to ensure that we allow both bottom-up, as I said, use cases to flow up, but also top-down direction on some of the most critical strategic priorities across the Army that allows us to make sure that we balance the need for direction on what priorities are the most relevant to also supporting local innovation in terms of unlocking data,” he added. “So this is going to be our approach.”

Vantage is a cloud-based platform used across the enterprise to help users make decisions by “joining and enriching millions of data points into Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) capable applications” and has the authority to operate on both unclassified and classified Army networks, according to the service. The platform has been powered by Palantir’s software since December 2019, when the Army awarded the company a production agreement worth up to $458 million, according to a Palantir press release

Following his remarks, Camarillo noted specific use cases for Vantage, including “unliquidated obligations in our audit efforts” and helping with logistics and supply chain issues.

“So it is, you know, the part of the work that involves developing a data platform, working with the specific Army users to ingest unstructured and structured data that’s in legacy systems into a new visualization platform, and then developing it in a way that can work,” Camarillo said. “That’s what Vantage does.”

He added that the service plans to make awards for Vantage toward the end of this calendar year. According to the RFI, a contract award is currently planned for the second quarter of fiscal year 2024. 

Meanwhile, Camarillo told reporters that after two of the Army’s top modernization officials have left their roles, it’s not going to “slow us down in terms of our efforts to make sure that we digitally transform the Army.” The service is searching for replacements for Paul Puckett, the Army’s cloud executive, and Raj Iyer, the service’s first chief information officer.

“So no, there’s no concern, no issue,” he said. “We’ll work through the deliberate process to find the right replacements and in the meantime we just want to make sure that A: we’re not losing momentum and B: we want to continue to thank both of those great leaders for their support.”