The U.S. Army’s Computer, Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions (CHESS) program is the Army’s primary source for procuring commercial, off-the-shelf hardware, software, and services. It is a series of Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts that are pre-negotiated and set up to expedite the acquisition process. CHESS provides a simple, straightforward, and cost-efficient contract vehicle for government agencies that require products and services.
On the hardware side, there are two contracts. One is the Army desktop and mobile computing contract and the other is ITES-3H, which is the Army Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-3 Hardware contract. From the services side, there is ITES-3S, Army Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-3 Services. For software, it is ITES-SW, Army Information Technology Enterprise Solutions – Software.
CHESS is primarily for Army use, but it is open to all Department of Defense (DoD) and federal customers with no fees. Given its IDIQ nature, ITES functions similarly to the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program as a Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). As a component of DoD, CHESS contracts require stricter requirements around supply chain and provide extra supply chain risk management. Additionally, CHESS tends to require solutions that adhere to DoD common criteria and similar requirements necessary to function within integrated architectures.
What’s Process of Acquiring IT Solutions with Army CHESS?
The Army CHESS office is run through the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS). As such, DFAR (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation) terms are a part of these contracts as well as any applicable Army Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Supplements.
The process is similar to other contracting vehicles from both the agency and industry sides. The agency develops requirements before reaching out to the contracting officer to discuss those requirements and develop a statement of work. Then they identify the funding that can be moved through the program before turning it over to the contracting officer acquisition side.
Perks of Procuring with ARMY CHESS
Supply Chain Risk Management: The supply chain risk management process looks at each particular product from the perspective of its ability to sabotage or maliciously induce something via software patches. They look at where the code is originating, what has been manufactured, and where the hardware is being produced or distributed. All those things are included as part of that review process to put a product into CHESS. While supply chain management is a popular buzzword lately that many contracts are beginning to address, this is not new to the Army; the Army has been doing this for years.
Approved Products List (APL): CHESS has products that are certified as acceptable to sit on a DoD network. This is an important certification for users and accessors of the products on this contract. The Army/DoD Unified Capabilities Approved Products List’s purpose is to maintain a single consolidated list of products that have completed Interoperability and information assurance certification for use in DoD systems and networks.
Trade Agreements Act: The Trade Agreements Act applies to all products within CHESS programs and provides that they are made in the USA or a designated approved country (i.e. Canada, the United Kingdom, etc.). TAA compliance ensures that products originating from non-complaint countries (i.e. China, Iran, Syria, Russia, etc.) do not end up within an Army or DoD network.
Software Risk Management Framework: On the software side, the Software Risk Management Framework provides similar assurances to TAA. Software must be certified through the Risk Management Framework (RMF) or be listed on another approved DoD program. CHESS provides a framework and actively works within it to manage supply chain risks. CHESS is a leader in the community of similar government and industry entities that share these concerns and it works cooperatively with NIST, MITRE, Gartner, GSA, and many others.
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