DOD set to award $2B in PC, workstation deals

The Air Force and the Navy plan to award personal computer and workstation contracts over the next three months with a combined value of $2 billion, continuing a technology-refreshment cycle that comes close to mirroring the commercial marketplace.

The Air Force Standard Systems Center, Gunter Annex, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., said it plans to award the hotly contested, $1 billion-plus Desktop V contract before the end of this month. The deal calls for up to 360,000 PCs, notebook computers and high-powered servers. The Air Force Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., meanwhile, has issued a call for best and final offers on its $900 million-plus Air Force Workstations contract. Bidders said they anticipated an award by the end of the first quarter.

And the Naval Information Systems Management Command has bids for its $175 million New Technology for Office and Portable Systems (NTOPS) contract under final evaluation, with bidders anticipating an award within a month.

Bob Dornan, senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc., said the sheer scope and value of these contracts indicates that "there is still an insatiable appetite for information technology within the federal government. Despite the budget impasse, everything looks positive for this business."

Bidder Lineup

Bidders on Desktop V include the Desktop IV contract holders, Government Technology Services Inc.—expected to offer Hewlett-Packard Co. hardware—and Zenith Data Systems. Electronic Data Systems Corp. is bidding a mix of Compaq Computer Corp. products and its own line. Other Desktop V bidders include Sysorex Information Systems Inc., bidding IBM Corp. hardware; Hughes Data Systems Inc., reportedly bidding Micron/Zeos Inc. PCs; and International Data Products Inc., offering its own line of PCs.

Vendors vying for the Air Force Workstations contract, which will provide up to 37,000 workstations and peripheral equipment, include Sun Microsystems Inc., holder of the original Tactical Air Force Workstations contract. Other bidders include EDS, bidding hardware from Silicon Graphics Inc.; Hughes Data Systems, bidding Digital Equipment Corp. gear; and Sylvest Management Systems Corp., teamed with HP.

As for NTOPS, industry sources said EDS, GTSI, IDP, ZDS and potentially BTG Inc.'s recently acquired Concept Automation Inc. subsidiary all submitted bids for the contract to supply PCs and notebooks.

Protest Prospects

Bob Guerra, vice president of Sysorex Information Systems, said he expects that the Desktop V award will be quickly followed by a protest.

"Too many people have too much riding on this not to protest," Guerra said.

But industry analysts disagreed. "I don't think protests are inevitable anymore, and the statistics bear me out," Dornan said.

"The cost of pursuing a protest is high, and the chance of success is dismal. Besides, dual awards [planned for Desktop V] do tend to spread the business around," Dornan said.

An industry source said that even if these three contracts do get hit with protests, "awards will come early enough in the year to get the protests out of the way before the start of the peak buying season in the summer."

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