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Success Stories

USDA Forest Service – Microwave Relocation Program

USDA Forest ServiceDTSI has provided a full turnkey solution for the U.S. Forest Service Microwave Relocation Project. This project required the installation and removal of microwave equipment at seventy-six sites across nine National Forests to ensure compliance with the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (CSEA).

Modernization to Meet Operational Requirements

The Forest Service microwave network operates in the 1710MHz – 1755MHz frequency band and requirements were established for relocation to a new band.  The Forest Service microwave network consists of numerous microwave links that provide backhaul transport for voice and data applications in support of mission-critical Forest Service operations to include Forest Fire & Disaster response.  In addition to relocating the Forest Service microwave network to a new operating frequency band, it was determined the microwave infrastructure was antiquated due to its obsolete analog-based technology, and, thus, an upgrade was necessary to achieve a modern digital microwave system with the capability of supporting both current and future U.S. Forest Service operational requirements.  It was additionally determined that substantial facility upgrades would be required in order for each site to support the operational requirements of the more sensitive digital microwave electronics equipment.

In the Forest Service’ quest to accomplish these objectives, DTSI was tasked with 13 distinct firm-fixed-price task orders to accomplish the services and product acquisitions required.  As the prime contractor, DTSI continues to successfully provide overall project engineering design, equipment, installation, and test services.  Various systems have been designed in support of the project including: System architecture design, Digital and Microwave path calculations and Line of Sight profiles, Multiplexer and circuit design, Antenna system design, AC Power & Grounding design, Site specific environmental alarm system design, DC backup power system design, and Communications Tower Design.

DTSI has employed a comprehensive Order Management process to ensure on-time delivery of all equipment to the correct locations for field implementation. Ten of the 13  Microwave Relocation Project task orders require Order Management and direct oversight of logistics. DTSI has incorporated a number of processes and procedures that directly support system sustainment for the Microwave Relocation Project.  DTSI has achieved a high level of customer confidence and satisfaction on this project by leveraging its CMMI-based best practices to efficiently provide the solutions and equipment necessary  to ensure quality throughout the project life cycle. These processes include: development of the project, comprehensive quality and implementation plans, design reviews with full customer participation, regularly scheduled reports on project status  with milestone status and other critical issues, customer participation on all major decisions, timely implementation of customer-generated changes, and development of future solutions with the customer.

Maintaining Subcontractor Compliance

DTSI currently manages a total of four (4) subcontractors on the Microwave Relocation Project.  DTSI ensures all relevant contract clauses flow down to its subcontractors and all certifications required by subcontractors are reviewed to ensure compliance and validity.  The DTSI quality management office provides all subcontractors with the established DTSI Quality Plan and enforces the plan throughout the life cycle of the project through a process of inspections and audits.  Additionally, DTSI shares significant project-related information with its subcontractors in order to eliminate ambiguity in the area of roles and responsibilities.  The DTSI Project Management Office manages the daily activities of subcontractors and conducts regularly scheduled meetings to ensure subcontractor compliance.

DTSI perpetually maintains staffing levels based on the size and scope of the project in various locations.  Each requirement set is thoroughly evaluated to determine all labor categories and the adequate number of resources needed to meet all requirements.  The DTSI staffing model employed for the Microwave Relocation Project has proven to be extremely efficient in the areas of eliminating non-assigned employees and meeting all project-related demands.

DTSI continues to subscribe to a ’best cost’ philosophy and follows a number of procedures intended to prevent cost overruns in order to effectively manage the project within the established budget.  Efficient procedures are employed to maintain project cost controls including:
  • Review of requirements, matched with equipment and service needs, to eliminate future unforeseen change orders due to misinterpretation or incomplete understanding of requirements
  • Develop comprehensive statements of work for third-party suppliers to quote against to ensure complete and accurate cost buildup
  • Obtain multiple quotes from third-party suppliers to ensure reasonable costs are being incurred for any product or service
  • Match-up of labor against contract & project requirements to accurately forecast man-hours
  • Real-time cost-tracking throughout the project life cycle and incorporation of adjustments when necessary to maintain cost objectives

A Project Complex in Nature

This Microwave Relocation Project remains complex in nature due to a large number of variables between geographical areas, weather patterns, system configuration, and site-specific needs.  DTSI management continuously reassesses project risks and potential problems, and develops mitigation plans to overcome such issues without jeopardizing the project schedule and budget. An example of risk mitigation is dealing with the extraordinary delays due to snow melt, preventing the timely mobilization  of implementation of teams to higher elevation sites. In order to mitigate the problem while maintaining project schedule and costs, DTSI management worked with the U.S. Forest Service and its subcontractors to develop a strategy to increase the number of implementation teams resulting in simultaneous implementation deployments as opposed to the earlier plan for sequential deployments.  The new strategy allowed DTSI to meet established milestone dates for task order completion while minimizing additional costs to a single element. DTSI management personnel continue to regularly consult with the engineering departments of the Forest Service to discuss technical aspects of the project and determine if there are problem areas or areas where improvements can be made.  

DTSI’s collective expertise in the communications domain continue to assist the customer in successfully meeting the objectives of this program. Exceptional customer ratings continue to validate DTSI’s efficient performance on this project. The period of performance for this contract was initiated in 2009 and successfully continues today.  DTSI’s success with the Forest Services project signals an emphasis on increasing its wireless technology portfolio.