20 vendors win NIH contracts

The National Institutes of Health on Aug. 15 awarded 20 contracts to vendors under ImageWorld a trend-setting procurement that could be worth more than $100 million. With its emphasis on commercial products ImageWorld is expected to reshape the way agencies buy imaging technology.

The winners of the five-year deals include six 8(a) companies seven small businesses and seven large corporations among them prominent federal imaging vendors (see box page 8). Including subcontractors a total of 118 firms will have an opportunity to sell off-the-shelf imaging workflow and document management systems to federal agencies under the governmentwide acquisition pact.

Contracting officer Gale Greenwald said she already has received several task orders under the program from NIH and other government customers.

"Many of our customers have imaging requirements that are out of the scope of their current contracts " said Brendan Keegan director of business development with the Government Services Division of Electronic Data Systems Corp. one of the ImageWorld winners. ImageWorld "is the only imaging-based governmentwide vehicle available."

The first NIH projects to use ImageWorld include:* A grant application and correspondence workflow system for the Office of Extramural Research. The office is developing an electronic grants administration process for all of NIH.* Document conversion services for the Office of the Director to convert agency archives to an electronic format.* A system for storing and retrieving medical images for the NIH Clinical Center.Manny De Vera the ImageWorld program director said he expects perhaps half of the orders off the contracts to come from customers outside NIH.

The procurement is one of the largest imaging buys to date in the federal government and could change how agencies buy the technology according to several vendors. Dan Buan manager of business development for winner TeleComm Systems Inc. Annapolis Md. described the procurement as "a virtual shopping mall" for imaging solutions.

"The biggest change is COTS solutions " Buan said. "We've gotten to the point in the industry now where we can put together a generic solution and sell 80 percent of it " customizing the remaining 20 percent for the user.

With ImageWorld NIH is experimenting with contracting approaches just permitted by procurement reform.For instance ImageWorld vendors will compete for task orders without for the most part any guarantee of business. Customers will select vendors to perform work based upon a short list provided to them by the contracting office. In cases in which a customer wants to direct the work to a specific vendor it would have to justify its decision to contracting officials.

Bob Dornan senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc. was skeptical about how much contracting officials will resist pressure from customers to make sole-source awards under new-style contracts including ImageWorld. "There are some concerns about how that is going to be implemented."ImageWorld catalogs will be posted on the World Wide Web beginning Sept. 15.*****ImageWorld Prime ContractorsDataline Inc.Kathpal Technologies Inc.MultimaxSytel Inc.TeleComm Systems Inc.Universal Hi-Tech DevelopmentCompusearchDaly ComputersDoculabsMCSI Technologies Inc.Management Systems Designers Inc.National Micrographics SystemsSeta Corp.BTG Inc.Digicon Corp.DoxsysElectronic Data Systems Corp.Lockheed Martin Corp.MicroDynamics Ltd.Unisys Corp.

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