Advantis, BTG co-star in $600M CINEMA blockbuster

The General Services Administration last week awarded two contracts worth up to $600 million total to Advantis a subsidiary of IBM Corp. and BTG Inc. for governmentwide electronic mail Internet access and electronic commerce services.

The two companies will offer basically the same services and will compete head-to-head for business from agencies across government. Their contracts under the Commerce Internet Electronic Mail Access (CINEMA) acquisition will run two years followed by three one-year option periods and both will be guaranteed at least $1.2 million.

Bob Woods commissioner of GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service said he expects the services offered through CINEMA to be in hot demand by federal agencies. "The agencies made a big deal over this one and they want to move ahead with it " Woods said in a speech last week.

John Okay deputy commissioner of FTS said agencies will submit all orders directly to the companies via electronic ordering systems and will be billed electronically as well. GSA will receive a 1 percent surcharge for each order to cover management costs.

GSA's CINEMA solicitation called for X.400 and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol e-mail services Internet access services conforming to standards established by the Internet Engineering Task Force and X.12 electronic commerce services. But GSA did not limit vendors to offering only these services and the agency is likely to modify the contracts if the vendors are able to prove there is a demand for additional services.John Graham vice president of corporate affairs at BTG said the company hopes to offer services such as digital signatures message encryption and electronic key management.

Brian Nightingale BTG's vice president said hardware such as modems may also become a major component. "We really haven't gotten into a lot of discussions with GSA about that yet " Nightingale said. "But I think hardware is something they intend to include. If we are able to establish a business case that there is an end user who would like an additional service or product I think GSA would be receptive."Dave Bolan the CINEMA project manager at Advantis said his company would also offer additional services such as electronic commerce services that extend beyond the requirements stated in GSA's request for proposals. Okay would not comment on additional services GSA might approve for future contract modifications. "We'd have to look at the scope of the contract " he said.

BTG will team with subcontractor UUNet Technologies Inc. to provide Internet access services and Sterling Commerce to provide e-mail and electronic commerce. Advantis will team with Isocor a provider of X.400 software and Quantum Technology Services Inc. a provider of in-network translation services.

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