Six firms win $214M USDA pact

The Agriculture Department last month awarded contracts worth a total of $214 million to six companies under a broad support services program open to all government agencies.

The five-year indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts for the Information Resource Management Support Services (IRMSS) program were awarded to CTA Information Technology Services Co. Electronic Data Systems Corp. IBM Government Industry National Systems and Research (NSR) SRA International Inc. and Unisys Federal Systems Division. The six contractors will compete for future task orders.

IRMSS will provide services such as software engineering imaging support business application engineering network operations support and information management application development.IRMSS will support other USDA programs including the Service Center Implementation initiative a scaled-down version of the now-defunct Info Share.

The program is "extremely broad " with 41 separate labor categories said Doug McCoy EDS' director of business development for USDA. Rather than awarding smaller niche support services contracts as USDA has done in the past the department opted for a single broader program which will be easier to administer he said.

This program will support USDA as it puts standard systems and architectures in place across the department. "This allows Unisys to [help USDA] not only to modernize existing applications but also to ensure the maximum interoperability of systems and applications " said Lee Cooper vice president of business development at Unisys which provides services to USDA under a separate services contract.The $214 million ceiling will be divided equally among the Farm Service Agency (FSA) the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the rest of the department and the government.

The major FSA support offices that will be served through this contract are in Washington D.C. Kansas City Mo. and St. Louis while the major support office for NRCS is located at its Fort Collins Colo. Information Technology Center. There are also seven other smaller support offices that serve NRCS.

USDA is under a self-imposed moratorium on IT purchases but support services are exempt which leaves the department free to begin issuing task orders said Scott Cook a contracting officer at USDA. The moratorium could be lifted in March after the department completes an agencywide plan for how IT purchases should be conducted.

IBM was the incumbent on an existing FSA-only support services contract. The new multiple-award contract continues the services provided by IBM but with a much broader scope. "I think the services are similar but the USDA wanted to address all the needs of the USDA rather than just the FSA " said Kim Harris program manager for the FSA software support services contract at IBM.

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