NTIS uses vendors to help agencies create sites

The National Technical Information Service will issue a solicitation within the next few weeks to create a pool of vendors that will provide agencies with World Wide Web development services necessary to build quality Web sites.

The Web services solicitation will become a vehicle for a series of basic ordering agreements between NTIS and other government entities.

The procurement run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology will become part of NTIS' Fedworld electronic dissemination initiatives program which provides agencies with gateways as well as technical assistance to establish Web sites.

The solicitation is expected to make contracting for those services easier since agencies will not have to develop and manage procurements or post their technical needs when building a Web site.

NTIS expects the number of task orders to total nearly 1 000 with values ranging between $10 000 and $60 000.

"Agencies are interested in this kind of flexible service arrangement " said Kate Snyder business development specialist at Fedworld which recently completed Web design and development for the Internal Revenue Service and the Customs Service. "Fedworld has been in a position to offer one-stop shopping for locating government information. We are a vehicle for government agencies looking to host information."

The arrangement appeals to agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which did not have the resources to build a Web site completely in house said Elmer Freeman of the Energy Department's ADP & Telecommunications Services Division.

"Working with NTIS gave us the luxury of taking our time and learning about the Net [and] concentrating on finding out what people wanted to see " he said. "All in all it was a fairly simple process. They laid out a design and look and feel for our page."

Freeman said that through Fedworld FERC established its Web site for less than $20 000.Once the contractor pool is in place NTIS will offer even more sophisticated solutions to client agencies Snyder said.

The less technically savvy agencies will most likely purchase the Web services "since they don't necessarily have the pool of technical talent that the Department of Energy or the White House has." NIST - which retains contracting authority for NTIS - plans to issue the solicitation by month's end and the award date will depend on the number and quality of responses.

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