DOD unveils first RFP for med facilities bridge buy

The Defense Department this month issued a solicitation for a $56 million acquisition that will serve as a bridge between the current Composite Health Care System (CHCS) and the next generation of computers for military medical facilities.

The request for proposals (RFP) is the first of three expected under DOD's Support Hardware and Automation Related Products project.

SHARP will provide new hardware, communications software, operating systems database management systems and programming tools to DOD hospitals and clinics worldwide. Under the first SHARP solicitation for specific products (SP), the Defense Supply Service-Washington will award one or more two-year contracts in two separate lots. The first lot will require vendors to provide equipment and software compatible with DOD's installed base, and the second lot calls for hardware and software specified by make and model.

DOD officials are promising an RFP by the end of the month for SHARP (generic, or G), an acquisition estimated to be worth at least $200 million. Officials have not projected a release date for the third solicitation for SHARP (maintenance).

Vendors consider Science Applications International Corp. a shoe-in for the SHARP (SP) solicitation, which focuses heavily on Digital Equipment Corp.'s Alpha platform. SAIC has provided Alpha equipment to DOD medical facilities under the recently expired CHCS contract and will partner with Digital on the SHARP bid.

Looking Good for SAIC

David Brooks, SAIC's senior vice president and program manager for CHCS, said DOD has been pleased with the Alpha systems, and he believes SAIC is likely to win SHARP (SP). "The language in the SP [solicitation] sounds very much like they are looking for very high support of Digital products," he said.

Because of delays in the release of the SHARP RFPs, DOD needed a vehicle to purchase CHCS equipment without extending the CHCS procurement authority too far, sources said. DOD initially estimated that the SHARP (G) contract would be awarded two months ago.

Brooks said he viewed SHARP (SP) as "a place holder" to extend the use of the CHCS platform until new SHARP (G) hardware can be installed. "Instead of burning CHCS procurement authority, they will burn SHARP procurement authority," he said. Sources at other companies agreed that SAIC will probably win the SHARP (SP) contracts and said they will most likely not bother bidding. Joe Howard, vice president of sales and marketing at Electronic Data Systems Corp., said the company is leaning away from a bid. "It appears to be an extension of CHCS, and the people who have that procurement probably have a leg up," he said.

"I think we will focus on SHARP (G)," Howard said. "That will be the hotly contested one."

Bob Pinto, national account manager for health care at PRC Inc., said PRC would not bid on SHARP (SP) and would focus its attention on SHARP (G). "This is simply the list of what the government needs to bridge the CHCS contract until SHARP (G) comes out," he said. "It's heavily biased for DEC. I think this is a way to legally get SAIC and its team involved with existing programs.

"We are not going to bid on it," he said. "Our whole strategy has been focused on the (G) lot." He said PRC would team with Sun Microsystems Inc. on the bid.

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