TASC lands $52M SETA procurement

The Defense Mapping Agency last week awarded a $52 million contract to TASC Inc. to provide systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) for the agency's modernization initiative.

DMA which supports Defense Department missions with a variety of digital and hard-copy maps is in the midst of a multiple-year effort to upgrade its Digital Production System (DPS) to take advantage of modern computer technology.

Under the five-year task-order SETA contract TASC will provide systems engineering and integration services to help DMA manage its operations while it upgrades DPS and related elements of its operations."The program is important as the agency continues to downsize and streamline production processes " said Dave Scopp the program manager for technical integration at DMA.

DMA's modernization initiative will give the agency the agility it needs to meet DOD's near-real-time mapping needs. Instead of distributing mass-produced maps for a given area DMA wants to provide geographic information tailored to a specific mission.

Migration: A Big Step

Migrating DPS will be a big step in that direction. The existing DPS system was developed by five contractors in a number of programming languages and runs on customized workstations. DMA wants to migrate to an open-systems environment based on off-the-shelf computers.

DMA expects to award a $500 million contract in 1998 to carry out the actual migration of DPS.

However DMA needs on-going technical support to adapt its operations to the new environment. This includes the integration of commercial off-the-shelf products as they are introduced into the environment.What TASC proposed is "a fresh new approach to doing their job " said Noel Widdifield vice president of TASC's information systems group Reston Va. This approach focuses on using a standard set of methodologies and tools for all systems engineering activities Widdifield said. DMA called for such an approach as part of its solicitation.

TASC's proposal uses a model for systems engineering based on the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model for software development. SEI CMM which has been adopted widely by DOD and other agencies emphasizes the use of standard repeatable development practices.

"We are working hard internally to standardize our processes and tools for all our customers " Widdifield said.

In addition to supporting DMA's modernization TASC also will assist DMA as it is subsumed into the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. NIMA will bring together DMA with other intelligence organizations including the National Reconnaissance Organization and the Central Imagery Office (CIO).

TASC believes it is in a good position to help with this process because it also is a subcontractor to Science Applications International Corp. on a support contract at CIO. TASC also has been providing technical support at DMA for more than a decade and helped the agency bring DPS on-line Widdifield said.

"We have been with [DMA] for 13 years and we have made a lot of changes along with them " Widdifield said. "We hope over the next five years we can help them move effectively into the new organization and help them improve [their operations]."

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