Virtual Data Center Services may melt FAA's ICEMAN

The Federal Aviation Administration may drop plans for a new outsourcing contract in favor of purchasing services through the General Services Administration's recently awarded Virtual Data Center Services program.

The FAA's current outsourcing pact Computer Resources Nucleus (Corn) will expire in October unless the FAA renews its option to continue the pact held by Electronic Data Systems Corp. Last month the FAA released a request for offers for a follow-on contract to Corn the Integrated Computing Environment - Mainframe and Networking (ICEMAN).

But FAA officials last week met with GSA to discuss the possibility of using the Virtual Data Center Services pact awarded last month to Computer Sciences Corp. SunGard Computer Services Inc. and Unisys Corp.

"They already had a solicitation [ICEMAN] but they are still giving serious consideration to using [the GSA pact] " said John Ortego acting deputy director of GSA's Information Technology Integration Division. He said he expects an FAA decision in a week or so.

An FAA spokesman confirmed that the agency discussed with GSA the possibility of buying services off the Virtual Data Center Services program. However the spokesman said the FAA is considering other options including the ICEMAN competition "because it makes good business sense to have many options to choose from."

Opting for the GSA deal would put CSC SunGard and Unisys in line to pick off what has been one of the government's largest examples of outsourcing. A shift in procurement strategy would give CSC a second chance to win an FAA outsourcing pact the company competed unsuccessfully against EDS on Corn.

When awarded in 1992 Corn was valued at $508 million. Under Corn the FAA outsourced its administrative applications and some systems that support the agency's air traffic control upgrade. EDS is on the first one-year option of the contract the FAA is not expected to exercise the second one-year option when the current option expires in October according to an industry executive.

The FAA's interest in GSA's contract may be price-driven according to an industry executive. Under the Virtual Data Center Services contract the FAA could do business with companies that are expected to bid on ICEMAN without the cost of conducting its own procurement. CSC Unisys and Affiliated Computer Services a subcontractor to Unisys on the GSA deal are all expected to compete for ICEMAN according to an FAA document.

An EDS spokesman last week said: "EDS has a contract with FAA. What the agency wants to do with that is their decision." The company would not comment further.

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