Commercial Sourcing of the Distributed Common Ground System

The Army needs new data management software to provide Soldiers and Commanders with seamless access to vast amounts of data. Since the 1990’s, the Department of Defense has recognized the need for a software system that can access,...Read more

The Army needs new data management software to provide Soldiers and Commanders with seamless access to vast amounts of data. Since the 1990’s, the Department of Defense has recognized the need for a software system that can access, manage, and analyze the wealth of data contained in the military’s various databases. In an attempt to meet this need, the military developed the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), which has been a costly failure. American taxpayers have paid approximately $6 billion for DCGS-A, yet it continues to be burdened by numerous critical failures in testing, training, and combat—nearly two decades after the Army and a cadre of defense contractors began developing it.

The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (“FASA”) requires federal agencies to acquire commercial products from the private sector “to the maximum extent practicable,” rather than paying contractors to develop those products from scratch. However, the Army issued a final RFI for DCGS-A2 confirming that the Army intended to develop new software rather than acquire existing commercial software. and is considering contract terms and vehicles that would perpetuate risky long-term, services-based contracts that focus on large software development activities” instead of inquiring into the availability of commercial items.

Additionally, the Court of Federal Claims expressed concern about “the unfortunate conduct of some of the Army personnel reflected in the Administrative Record.”

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Washington, DC (Global)
October 4, 2018
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Marian Horn

Appeals Court Judge
1st/ 2,344 in Courts and Law

instead of asking about commercial items, or asking more open-ended questions about the approach to the procurement, potential respondents only were asked about developmental projects similar to the existing DCGS-A1 program, the Army had not carefully considered whether commercial items were available.

This does not meet the...Read more

instead of asking about commercial items, or asking more open-ended questions about the approach to the procurement, potential respondents only were asked about developmental projects similar to the existing DCGS-A1 program, the Army had not carefully considered whether commercial items were available.

This does not meet the minimal requirement of demonstrating that the defendant conducted a genuine inquiry that could enable it to reach a rational conclusion not to consider commercial items, even after Palantir had urged the Army to consider its product as a commercially available alternative.

Here, the administrative record plainly shows that the Army was on notice that Palantir’s product might be a commercial item that would satisfy its requirements, whether as-is or with modifications. Despite that notice, the Army’s ultimate determination regarding its market research excluded commercial items from consideration in a conclusory fashion. On this record, we conclude that the Army did not rationally use its market research results to determine whether there are available commercial items.

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Palantir Technologies

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October 4, 2018

At a minimum, the Army must conduct actual market research into the availability of commercial items and, based on that research, make a complete and reasoned determination as to whether DCGS-A2 can be procured on a commercial-item basis.

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Palantir Technologies

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October 4, 2018

Palantir USG, Inc. developed and refined a state-of-the-art data management platform, called Palantir Gotham, that allows customers to integrate, visualize, and analyze massive amounts of data. Palantir Gotham has been deployed across the public and private sectors to solve some of the world’s most difficult data management...Read more

October 4, 2018

Palantir USG, Inc. developed and refined a state-of-the-art data management platform, called Palantir Gotham, that allows customers to integrate, visualize, and analyze massive amounts of data. Palantir Gotham has been deployed across the public and private sectors to solve some of the world’s most difficult data management challenges. Palantir’s platform has been utilized throughout the Department of Defense, including United States Marine Corps, United States Special Operations Command, FBI, and Army units in Afghanistan who repeatedly have requested it as an alternative to DCGS-A1.

A 2012 Army assessment compared Palantir Gotham with DCGS-A1 and concluded that Palantir Gotham “was easier to operate and saved [Soldiers] time in conducting intelligence tasks.” A 2014 Contractor Performance Assessment Report conducted by the Army Research Laboratory concluded that Palantir’s product was “Exceptional,” explaining that it provides “tools that enable analysts to store, organize, access, and retrieve large amounts of intelligence from disparate data sets,” which “allows the rapid analysis of massive amounts of data

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