DOD seeks wide range of hardware and software

The Defense Department this month issued a solicitation for $595 million worth of new hardware and software destined for department hospitals, clinics and field medical facilities.

The request for proposals for Support Hardware and Automation Related Products (Generic), known as SHARP(G), calls for a full array of hardware, including servers, workstations, terminals, printers and communications equipment. The solicitation also requests communications software, operating systems, development tools and other off-the-shelf packages.

SHARP(G) will replace DOD's Composite Health Care System (CHCS) contract. The RFP said DOD may award multiple two-year SHARP(G) contracts and present winning vendors with task orders at the discretion of contracting officers.

Concern Over Investment Return

Some vendors expressed concern that the multiple-award strategy guaranteed little return on the investment that vendors would have to make to respond to the solicitation.

One vendor, who requested anonymity, said he had been interested in bidding but lost interest after reading the RFP.

"It doesn't look good to us right now," the vendor said, adding that his company still had not completely ruled out bidding. "It's a large contract with 1,900 line items and no guarantees. Just gathering that many components is a major task."

The vendor also questioned whether DOD health care providers would even have a requirement for $595 million worth of equipment in only two years. "Bear in mind that this contract is just for the medical community," he said. "To spend $595 million in two years is incredible."

Another vendor questioned the lack of high-end workstations specified in the RFP. He said most observers expected the acquisition to focus on Unix workstations.

"They started this as a high-end workstation procurement and ended it as a PC deal," he said. "They've kind of surprised industry."

Observers said they expect CHCS vendor Science Applications International Corp., PRC Inc. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. to bid on the contract. SAIC is expected to bid Digital Equipment Corp. hardware, and a PRC official said that company will team with Sun Microsystems Inc.

David Brooks, senior vice president and CHCS program manager of SAIC, declined to comment on the SHARP(G) specs. He said company personnel were studying the solicitation but had not yet determined how they would respond.

Proposals for SHARP(G) are due by the end of May.

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