Boeing, Lockheed win stage 1 NASA pacts

NASA awarded preliminary contracts to the two companies most likely to compete for the $5 billion contract to consolidate the agency's entire space operation infrastructure - one of the largest information technology-related procurements in civilian agency history.

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) presented Boeing North American Inc. Space Systems Division and Lockheed Martin Space Mission Systems and Services Inc. each a $4 million contract for the first phase of the Consolidated Space Operations Contract (CSOC).

The companies will develop an integrated operations architecture plan for NASA space operations as part of the eight-month contract called the study phase. The contractors then will submit the architecture plan proposals to compete for the final phase: a 10-year contract that will require the winning contractor to manage and provide space operations services for NASA space flight and science programs.

While other companies could submit proposals for the second phase of the mammoth contract they also would have to submit an architecture plan said Larry Bourgeois assistant director of space operations at JSC. It would be "very unusual" for other companies to spend the money and time to develop an architecture plan and submit it he said.

CSOC will combine many existing IT contracts and the winning contractor will provide data acquisition services data transmission to end users data processing and storage and mission-control center operations. Although the initial award will be structured as cost plus award after the first two years NASA will negotiate a firm-fixed price for some portions of the contract Bourgeois said.

Boeing and Lockheed each have assembled teams made up of several of the larger industry players that submitted letters of intent for the contract. In addition to various Boeing divisions that will work with Boeing North American Lucent Technologies Inc. KPMG Peat Marwick Litton/PRC Inc. and Science Applications International Corp. will be joining Boeing.

Lockheed's team includes various internal divisions as well as Allied Signal Corp. Computer Sciences Corp. GTE Corp. and Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc.

NASA intended to award up to three contracts for the first phase but Boeing and Lockheed were the only vendors to submit proposals.

Other companies including Hughes Information Technology Systems BDM Federal and AT&T which had originally indicated interest in the competition chose not to submit bids.

Ken Asbury vice president of business development for Lockheed's Space Mission and Services division said the size and complexity of the contract may have discouraged some companies from submitting proposals.

"You had to be pretty stout of heart to want to take it on " he said. "I think NASA would have loved to see more of the tele-communications companies interested in it."

Asbury compared the final product of the massive outsourcing and consolidation to the current pricing system for local phone service. Customers receive an itemized bill including a flat fee for basic services and extra charges for customized features. Eventually he said NASA will have a clear idea from the winning contractor of the exact costs for its basic space operations needs and additional customized features.

The consolidation will include several challenging aspects primarily because of the need to prevent any disruption to the agency's missions while restructuring space operations Asbury said. "You have to make this change while providing virtually 100 percent of the data they're getting today. If not CSOC will fail."John McLuckey executive vice president of Boeing Defense and Space Group said the company plans to leverage commercial practices and services to design a low-risk solution for NASA.

"Boeing sees this as a strategic part of its business for the future and we're going after it in a big way " he said.

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