Orders begin to flow through ITOP pipeline

Business on the Transportation Department's Information Technology Omnibus Procurement (ITOP) is beginning to flow as the first task orders move through the $1.3 billion multiple-award contract.

Awarded in May ITOP is a governmentwide IT services pact spread across 20 prime contracts. The seven-year services contract is one of the first to use ideas from the National Performance Review. Contract administration has been streamlined and customer flexibility emphasized. Some proponents predict ITOP will exceed its ceiling in three years. "It's the first concrete evidence I've seen that somebody truly is streamlining the acquisition process " said Jim Hooper deputy program manager at Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) an ITOP prime contractor.

As of last week four task orders worth close to $1 million had been awarded under ITOP with 15 to 20 more worth about $6.5 million in the hopper. Although task orders are just starting to flow through the contract the pace is reasonable considering that it is a new contracting office and a new way of doing business said Jim DeGroff Unisys' ITOP integration manager.

Some indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts take six months to get going added Kathy Koerner ITOP senior project director for Computer Sciences Corp. an ITOP prime. The period between the award date and the first orders was due to the ITOP contract office asking for "cost proposals with rates effective July 1 " Koerner said. "They awarded it faster [than expected]."

The other adjustment so far has been clarifying the conditions under which orders can be "directed" to a given contractor as opposed to competed. Originally ITOP planned to exclude $3 million in business from competition annually for each contractor allowing customers to direct awards where they chose. But after discussions with Congress the ITOP program office determined that the $3 million annual exclusion should be subject to the limitations established under the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act. FASA holds that all task orders worth more than $2 500 should be subject to competition except under certain circumstances such as an agency's urgent need for supplies or services.

The four ITOP awards to date have been directed task orders.

SAIC has received a $663 000 task order from the Navy's Puget Sound shipyard Hooper said. The award is in the Information Systems Engineering (ISE) portion of ITOP on which SAIC is a prime contractor. SAIC is also a prime in the Systems/Facilities Management and Maintenance area of ITOP through its recent acquisition of Synetics.

BTG and Troy Systems meanwhile have captured awards worth less than $50 000 each.

BTG's job under the ISE segment was to "put the ITOP office on-line " said Brad Walton director of business operations at BTG. The company also installed Spiderweb its document management system. Troy Systems an 8(a) company based in Alexandria Va. has a task order from DOT for network analysis said Lisa Schlosser company program manager. Troy Systems' award comes under the Information Systems Security portion of ITOP.

GTE Corp. snared the fourth award a $152 000 task order with the Defense Mapping Agency to provide network support. The award falls under the ISE portion of the contract.

DOD meanwhile has task orders in the pipeline worth about $6.5 million said Diane Litman DOT's program sponsor. In addition the FAA is planning an order potentially worth more than $10 million Litman said. She anticipates however that most of the contracts awarded under ITOP will be in smaller dollar amounts.

Among other expected ITOP awards is a project on network capacity planning from the Agency for International Development. And Unisys reported that subcontractor Oracle Corp. will perform work for the FAA on a $150 000 task order. The project is the first ITOP assignment for the Unisys team DeGroff said. Unisys will "provide [to] subs the management information system which keeps track of cost schedule and performance on all task orders " he said.

Strong Points

Among ITOP's strengths from the contractors' viewpoint are its lack of "limitation by lot" and its 25 percent product content provisions said Mary Dale Unisys program development director. The former means that "theoretically all of the ceiling could be applied to ISE " she said. And the 25 percent rule allows contractors to "deliver an entire solution as well as professional services " Dale said.

That would not be enough to deploy a multisite system CSC's Koerner said but could cover system development work.

ITOP task orders also can be funded incrementally with "subject-to-availability" money Dale said. So an agency with limited funds can start a project and add to it as additional resources become available. The task-order ceiling is $50 million.

In addition the contract fee structure is flexible an attractive feature to potential customers Dale said.

"The DOT...has a tiered range of 1 to 4 percent of costs depending on which services you use " she explained. And the base for calculating fees is capped at $15 million Koerner said.

The maximum "pass through" of 4 percent is good considering that contracts can range up to 15 percent according to Ralph Yates director of contracts for Validity a small business that is a prime in both the ISE and systems/facilities management areas. He expects to see "some migration to the contract."

Another feature is ITOP's planned use of electronic communications. Although the requirement to use the FederalAcquisition Computer Network is suspended because the DOD hubs are not ready for ITOP traffic the program's World Wide Web site is up and running.


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