Agencies to tap omnibus vehicles for Year 2000 gear
- By Paul McCloskey
- Aug 18, 1996
Federal agencies - under the gun to focus their attention on the Year 2000 crisis - are tweaking a long line of existing contracts to speed the acquisition of the tools and services they will need to sift sort and renovate the millions of lines of date-related code underlying their legacy systems.
"From a Year 2000 perspective there's just not a lot of time to put new vehicles in place " said Mark Koltz a division manager for Decision Systems Technologies Inc. (DSTI) which has been working with the Internal Revenue Service via two separate contracts to manage its vast Year 2000 conversion. Initially the IRS tapped DSTI through a General Services Administration Federal Systems Integration and Management re-engineering services contract. But now the company's services will be moved to TIPSS the $955 million Treasury Information Processing Support Services task-order contract awarded last year.
In both cases the IRS sought Year 2000 services that fell easily within the scope of existing contracts set up for maintenance engineering or life-cycle support services. And other agencies are likely to follow suit: The Defense Information Systems Agency for example will draw on the recently let Defense Enterprise Integration Services (DEIS) II contract the yet-to-be-awarded Joint Interoperability and Engineering Organization Engineering Services (JES) contract and even the older Corporate Information Management Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (CIM SETA) contract for its Year 2000 assessment and renovation needs. "It's a systems maintenance problem" said Carla von Bernewitz head of the Year 2000 task force at DISA which will not launch any Year 2000-specific procurements. "The kind of tools and services you would most likely see under those contract vehicles would be for the initial life-cycle phases going through and identifying the environment and doing code counts. I believe a lot of these contracts are a good fit for the kind of activities that need to take place for Year 2000."
Considering the timetable for fixing the problem agencies will need to start acquiring Year 2000 tools and services fast if they hope to meet the 40-month deadline for zero hour. For most that means governmentwide omnibus-type contracts will be the primary avenues. Among the most likely candidates are: Treasury's TIPSS DISA's DEIS II contract the Transportation Department's Information Technology Omnibus Procurement (ITOP) the Justice Department's Assist contract and the Air Force's Integrated Computer-Aided Software Engineering (I-CASE) pact which was recently anointed by the Pentagon. The General Services Administration's A and B/C schedules the Federal Systems Integration and Management Center's (Fedsim) Multiple Award Indefinite Quantity support services pacts and the National Institutes of Health's upcoming $100 million Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners (CIOSP) project round out the major Year 2000 target contracts.
These smorgasbord contracts will carry tools that assess how a program reacts when confronted with a post-Dec. 31 1999 date and tools that analyze identify and trace the flow of date fields through system code. Integrators big and small alike are hoping to use the contracts to provide services on a task-order basis across the Year 2000 life-cycle spectrum from awareness assessment renovation and validation to implementation support.
"We expect to see most of the work coming in under existing omnibus contracts because of the critical-timing nature of the problem " said Clay Hamby vice president of business development at Computer Sciences Corp. which has a Year 2000 methodology dubbed Catalyst 2000. "We've structured our methodology so that it is amenable to a task-order approach so that the work can be segmented into different tasks and managed as one threaded program." CSC is a prime contractor on such task-order deals as DEIS II ITOP and TIPSS.
Treasury's TIPSS program a multiple-award services contract with four years to run is currently issuing Year 2000 task orders said TIPSS program manager Fred Cole. TIPSS on which CSC is one of 14 prime contractors is generally used for software development. The contract provides an array of tools including the Year 2000 offerings of such vendors as Micro Focus Viasoft Inc. Software Emancipation Technology Computer Associates International Inc. IBM Corp. and Peritus Software Services Inc. to name a few.
Language in statements of work for any new software development performed under TIPSS is currently being modified to ensure Year 2000 compliance according to Cole. Eventually the entire contract will be modified so that developers account for century date changes.
The Defense Department's DEIS II contract is expected to draw much of DOD's Year 2000 work according to industry observers but civilian agencies may hit it hard as well. One of the strengths of the contract is its flexibility: Agency customers can make purchases through an IDIQ cost-plus or task-order mechanism. And vendors in turn can customize teaming arrangements to best tackle problems particular to individual agencies.
"We are approaching [DEIS II] as a team activity " said Terry Zagar chief scientist for BDM Federal Inc. which will work with a pool of other companies including IBM CACI Inc. Price Waterhouse Northrop Grumman Corp. and American Management Systems Inc. "Based on whether it was a re-engineering problem a replacement problem or a fix problem we'd say which team member or two we would work with. We want to play to people's strengths."
"The general purpose of the contract is systems migration " said Jerry Cranfill chief engineer at Unisys Corp.'s Federal Systems Division another of the six primes on the contract. "So that clearly falls under the umbrella of any Year 2000 work because it is a legacy systems migration approach."
The Air Force is taking a more tailored approach with I-CASE. That is Year 2000 tools are being added to the contract but the Air Force will not overstock the shelves. Logicon Inc. is the prime contractor onI-CASE which is designed to provide commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware and services to support Defense software production.
"We are putting products on the contract that are appropriate to the problem-set within the Air Force " said Ken Heitkamp technical director of the Air Force Standard Systems Group at Hanscom Air Force Base Mass. "It's not going to be a complete shopping list. We're not going to be all things to all people."Instead the contract will be used to supply the Year 2000 tools for the major Air Force platforms in the Microsoft Corp. Windows Unix Unisys mainframe and IBM mainframe environments.
The Air Force will also use its upcoming Global Combat Support System - Air Force (GCSS) contract - as a source of Year 2000 technical assistance according to Heitkamp. Bidders responded to a one-page statement of objectives outlining the need to take Year 2000 into account during modernization. "Then we let them decide " he said. As a result tools and services "most likely will be there " he said. The contract which will replace components of the Air Force supply system is expected to be awarded imminently.Most of the services and tools being sought from the major omnibus contracts will be used to do the painstaking work of assessing and re-mediating code for agency legacy systems. In some of those cases the original software developer may not even be in business. But for more recent software development work contractors are being asked to go back and examine the systems for Year 2000 trouble spots.
"We have to handle developmental software on a case-by-case basis " said Col. Ken Alford acting chief of the Army's Acquisition Division. The challenge ranges from small applications of 10 000 lines of code or less to the Army's segment of the Global Command and Control System which in turn plugs into the Defense Information Infrastructure a huge interlocking system of code. "Each one of those is going to be different and we're working with the program managers in each case to do what's smart for each contract."
H2GSA Provides Help
Beyond those DOD vehicles the GSA schedules and Fedsim's multiple-award services contracts will be major sources of Year 2000 tools and services. In May GSA added a "millennium conversion special item number" to its fiscal 1996 Schedule A to identify Year 2000 products and services.
Other tweaks in the GSA procurement system may make it easier for agencies looking for Year 2000 help: GSA has lifted the $500 000 maximum order limit on its multiple-award schedules meaning agencies can perform fairly large service jobs via the GSA schedule. In addition under the Federal Supply Service's blanket purchase agreement mechanism agencies and GSA schedule holders can form agreements for specific tasks.
"As a software vendor we have always had services as a part of our schedule to support the product set " said Nancy Peters director of business development at Software AG Federal Systems Inc. which has a deal with Computer Horizons Corp. to do Year 2000 work. "What we have done with GSA approval is expand that somewhat to include Year 2000 services for our customers. Now that there has been some expansion of services that integrators can offer the Year 2000 service area is clearly a target."
Agencies buying services through Fedsim contracts will also have a lot of technical and financial flexibility to obtain Year 2000 services. Agencies can obtain an interagency agreement with Fedsim and then define a specific Year 2000 requirement within the scope of the contract. "Our view is that this work can be done by pretty much any of the contractors that we have available to us already " said Cheryl Fahl senior program manager at Fedsim which runs MAIQ. MAIQ is a multiple-award contract with eight primes each of which has half a dozen prequalified subcontractors.
Among upcoming contracts the National Institutes of Health's CIOSP is considered to be a rich source of Year 2000 gear. The multiple-award project expected to be awarded by September is one of the few contracts to specify Year 2000 services in one of its five functional areas according to Manny De Vera NIH's CIOSP program manager.
The NIH contract is task-order-specific and has no cap on purchases by other agencies. "The key is that CIOSP has a specific functional area that addresses Year 2000 issues " De Vera said. "We sought companies that are doing work in that area which is where we are attracting a lot of subcontractors. Some integrators have their own solutions for doing it and some integrators are subcontracting it out."
While the big governmentwide contracts are open to all agencies some may stay closer to home for some of their Year 2000 products. In addition to tapping the big contracts like DEIS II NASA is likely to use its Program Information Systems Mission Services (Prisms) contract to do Year 2000 work on certain NASA-wide systems or for systems used only at Marshall Space Flight Center according to CSC's Hamby. NASA awarded Prisms to CSC in 1994.
Similarly the Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering using its HUD Integrated Information Processing Service contract but is also exploring using NATO's Basic Ordering Agreement contract to obtain support during its assessment phase according to HUD's Year 2000 project manager Pamela Stallings.
Inside the federal government some agencies are far enough along in their Year 2000 work that they are themselves a source of Year 2000 support.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' Austin Automation Center which has worked with Rockville Md.-based CTA Inc. on its own conversion has since worked with other VA agencies and is now starting to talk with local state and other federal agencies about their Year 2000 projects.
The center has been able to launch the program through the Fair Franchise Fund a fee-for-service pilot program set up by the Office of Management and Budget and Congress.
The center started studying its Year 2000 problem in 1991 and began working with its major applications the next year. "So we've had the luxury of a number of years to work on this rather than the stress that some agencies might be experiencing if they are just beginning " said the center's Paul Hansen.
To work with the center an agency would sign an interagency agreement spelling out services the center would provide. Rates are "competitive " Hansen said as the center has already established rates for its own work within the VA.
While most agencies will seek outside consulting services very few have been able to virtually "go it alone." One near exception is the Social Security Administration which is famous in Year 2000 circles for being far ahead of the time curve. The agency which started its planning in 1989 already has its code inventory in place and has conducted a procurement for tools to use in its analysis phase. The company awarded a pact to Viasoft to provide Year 2000 tools.
"We're hoping that we'll be able to complete our code changes without having to procure any outside help " said Judith Draper SSA's Year 2000 project director.
Of course most agencies won't have that advantage. For them it's a "zero-sum game" of shifting people and resources."
"Going it alone gets to be less of an option the more time you wait " said Rich Tilghman program manager for the Year 2000 at Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s Government Services Division which is working on Year 2000 projects through a number of major contracts. "In the weeks and months to come the resources are going to go away and your time to fix these systems is going to go away. You get to the point where if you had unlimited money and resources you still will not be able to fix your systems."McCloskey is a contributing writer to FCW.