VA chooses 23 vendors for $50 million contract

The Department of Veterans Affairs tapped 23 vendors last month for a $50 million services project aimed at making its ADP center more cost-effective.

The Multiple Award Requirements Contract for Information Technology Services (MARC-ITS) will offer a broad range of services. The large scope of the project was part of the reason the VA chose 23 vendors said Dan Tye a senior contracting officer at the department's Austin Automation Center in Texas.

As projects become available the center will seek bids from vendors and choose a single winner. "It keeps competition and it ensures that the government can get the best product at the best prices " Tye said.

The Austin center handles ADP work for VA offices and for other federal agencies. Under a five-year pilot program that runs through 2001 the Austin center operates under a "franchise fund." The fund is the center's entire budget - about $48 million this fiscal year - and is derived from fees it collects for handling ADP work for other agencies.

Vendors receiving contract awards will not be handling ADP work for VA clients. Instead they'll be working on the center's internal systems.

The MARC-ITS project covers eight IT categories: Year 2000 projects electronic data interchange support software application design development and maintenance independent validation and verification systems/facilities management and maintenance support information system security support services communications systems support and technical and special analyses.

The 23 winners include 11 large companies and 12 smaller firms. Among those are eight small disadvantaged businesses one woman-owned firm and five veteran-owned businesses.

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