Four to share $20M NOAA pact

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has selected four minority-owned firms to receive awards under a $20 million program for scientific workstations.

NOAA's scientific workstation contract (SCIWOC II) is modeled after NASA's successful Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP), which featured multiple contractors supplying workstations, software and networking gear. The three-year SCIWOC II will tide NOAA over until SEWP II is awarded in the fall.

NOAA was one of the largest non-NASA users of SEWP, which offered 20 percent of its total contract volume to non-NASA agencies. SEWP II will set aside 80 percent of the expected $1 billion contract for nine participating agencies, of which the Commerce Department, NOAA's parent, is one.

Sylvest Management System, Pulsar Data Systems, Data Procurement Corp. and McBride & Associates apparently signed contracts with NOAA April 19. All but Pulsar Data Systems, which would not comment until the award is made official, confirmed the signing.

Because the three-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) SCIWOC II program is an 8(a) set-aside, the Small Business Administration is reviewing the proposals for final approval. SBA is expected to make an announcement this week.

SCIWOC II is a recompete of a $15 million contract awarded to Sylvest in 1993. Under the new contract, the four vendors, who will supply workstations, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, networking products and services, are each guaranteed $100,000 worth of business.

Barbara Harriss, senior account manager at Data Procurement, said the contract is NOAA's version of SEWP, but she added that, until SEWP II is awarded in the fall, "[NOAA] needs an interim vehicle to handle workstation" requirements.

The workstations will be used primarily for database modeling, imaging and viewing satellite data as well as other oceanic and atmospheric research. The National Weather Service is expected to be the largest buyer off the contract.

Data Procurement is supplying Digital Equipment Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. workstations and Bay Networks Inc. and Cabletron Systems Inc. networking equipment, among other products.

"Products that we thought would be useful to NOAA, we bid," said Norman Cheung, vice president of complex systems at McBride & Associates. "This way, because the contract spans a number of different [NOAA] organizations and is open to the rest of Commerce, it's one way to satisfy different" user requirements. "It provides a lot of flexibility to users in NOAA."

McBride & Associates will provide workstations from Digital, IBM Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Sun; networking products from Bay Networks, Cabletron and Cisco Systems Inc.; and software from Oracle Corp. and Computer Associates International Inc., among others.

Meanwhile, Sylvest's offering includes Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun, Digital and Silicon Graphics workstations, along with system management software and tools.

A multiple award, said Rene LaVigne, vice president of Sylvest's integration services group, means that NOAA will get the best price for products.

"It's a sign of the future," he said. "It's competition on a day-to-day basis [in terms] of product availability and sales."

"[The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act] encourages multiple awards for IDIQ contracts in order to promote competition on an ongoing basis," said Marguerite Brown, a contracting officer at NOAA.

Also worth noting, Data Procurement's Harriss said, is the fact that SCIWOC II is open to the rest of Commerce, up to 20 percent of the value of the delegation of procurement authority. "It's rare under an 8(a) contract to open it up."

She added that the contract will allow the contractors to update their price lists for specific product categories on a daily basis via the Internet. This too is unusual for an 8(a) contract, she said.

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