EPA rolls out $200M RFP for telecommunications, support

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched a procurement for telecommunications and computer support that could be worth more than $200 million over five years.

The National Telecommunications and Computing Support contract (National TACS) will replace a contract that is currently held by Lockheed Martin Technical Services and that will expire in September. In addition some of the services to be performed under the new contract are currently being handled by DynCorp under a separate contract.

The solicitation calls for a vendor to maintain existing EPA networks and systems nationwide as well as to support new systems as they are brought on-line. The procurement is part of a five-contract strategy through which the EPA plans to upgrade and maintain its computing infrastructure and applications.

As part of this strategy the EPA is consolidating into one contract support for its National Computer Center in Research Triangle Park N.C. its supercomputing center in Bay City Mich. and its regional offices. By using one vendor the agency will save money said Ted Harris head of the Information Technology Support and Acquisition Branch of the EPA's Enterprise Technology Services Division (ETSD).

"We support end to end from the PC user to databases to the Internet " Harris said. "It's all one system and it's much easier to manage that from an overall effort from the EPA side."

The EPA also plans to award this year a second contract to support computing operations at its headquarters.

To date the EPA has spent $160 million to $240 million on the Lockheed Martin pact according to agency estimates. Federal Sources Inc. McLean Va. has put the potential value of National TACS at $265 million.

Eligible bidders must have held at least three contracts worth $15 million a year. Norm Berthaut a vice president with Input Inc. Vienna Va. said new procurement rules have made it possible for agencies to set more of their own ground rules for competition.

Berthaut said the cutoff "represents the top 100" federal IT vendors. "I don't think it excludes anybody of any significance but it eliminates a lot of smaller companies from competing directly."

The EPA will base 40 percent of its assessment of bidders on oral presentations and face-to-face question-and-answer sessions with each proposal team. Bob Lohfield senior vice president with OAO Corp. Greenbelt Md. said the EPA has not used this technique before adding that the agency favors vendors who are familiar with it.

"If you don't understand the agency the mission of ETSD and the challenges [of the contract] you're not going to do well at the oral " Lohfield said. OAO which currently holds a $71 million contract to support EPA administrative systems plans to bid on National TACS. Other potential bidders include Lockheed Martin current subcontractor

I-NET Inc. and several other major federal systems integrators.

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