Army officials seek Microsoft expertise

Army's presolicitation notice

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Army information technology officials want to hire people with expertise in Microsoft Corp. products to help them carry out the service's new Golden Master policy of creating a standard Army network.

Officials issued a presolicitation notice Aug. 26 about hiring Microsoft officials or consultants with proficiency in the company's products. The consultants would assist Army officials in creating a standard, secure computer desktop and server environment servicewide. The Microsoft experts also would help Army officials capitalize on a Microsoft enterprise license agreement that they signed in May 2003.

"We want to hire anyone who has expertise," said Amy Harding, director of integration in the Enterprise Systems Technology Activity at the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command (Netcom). Netcom officials oversee the management and protection of the service's networks.

The wording of the presolicitation notice suggests that Netcom officials prefer to hire Microsoft employees because of their knowledge of the company's product development. "Since the services to be rendered under this contract require direct access to Microsoft software source code, key business processes and scheduled new product releases, any effort to obtain competition would not be successful," the notice states.

"The Army Golden Master establishes a consistent, hardened desktop and server image, consisting of specific Microsoft products, to be leveraged by all organizations in the Army," the notice also states.

According to the notice, only Microsoft officials have expressed interest in the project. Eric Meister, Army engagement manager for Microsoft Services Public Sector business unit, confirmed that company officials plan to submit a bid. Microsoft products make up only a portion of the Army's Golden Master plan.

Netcom officials developed the policy last year to improve how they manage and secure service networks and to lower the cost of operating them. The policy complements two other policies. One is to approach all IT expenditures as servicewide investments. The other is to upgrade all of the Army's computers to newer versions of Microsoft software, including minimum upgrades to Windows 2000, Active Directory and Exchange 2003 by Dec. 31.

For the Army Golden Master program, Netcom officials identified nine applications in use servicewide under enterprise license agreements. They include two antivirus software packages, two access and identity management products, Microsoft operating systems and the Microsoft Office suite.

The applications will be delivered on a CD-ROM for Army IT officials and users to install, Harding said.

The Army's Golden Master policy and similar government IT policies increase standardization and decrease costs, said Phil Butler, a principal with Phil Butler and Associates Ltd., an IT consulting firm in Annandale, Va. "It does wonders for software asset management," he said.

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