Five vendors tappedfor $100M Y2K work

The U.S. Postal Service this week is expected to sign ordering agreements with five vendors to provide wide-ranging Year 2000 services for the agency nationwide - agreements that could be worth $100 million in business according to industry sources.

The five vendors - Computer Sciences Corp. Unisys Corp. SRA International Inc. Keane Inc. and Science Applications International Corp. - initially were pre-qualified at the request of USPS by Gartner Group a Stamford Conn.-based consulting firm that has done research on the extent of problems associated with the inability of many computer systems to process the Year 2000 date field.

The agency conducted a series of vendor interviews and is now in the process of negotiating basic ordering agreements with the vendors according to industry sources. Once the agreements are in place USPS will issue task orders for which the vendors will compete. There are several other companies which were not pre-qualified by Gartner Group that are expected to sign agreements with the agency sources said.USPS confirmed that it plans to sign agreements next week for Year 2000 services but would not confirm the selected vendors.

The agreements will cover three types of work: USPS nationwide Year 2000 strategy and planning development and conversion of applications and systems and compliance testing. USPS will compete task orders among the five vendors including one for program management. It is anticipated however that the vendor that wins this will be excluded from competing for other task orders relating to source code changes.Pat Burke practice manager for Year 2000 at SRA referred to the USPS arrangement as a mini indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract consistent with the model for task-order contracts established by such programs as the National Institutes of Health's Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners pact. Burke said the task-order environment makes sense given the firm deadline for Year 2000 work. USPS he said needs to "have a way to get jobs turned on quickly and get done what they need to get done." SRA has worked on federal Year 2000 projects with the U.S. Courts the Internal Revenue Service and the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Joe Fields director of business development at CSC said the agreements give USPS a list of "preferred providers" for Year 2000 work to tap when the work needs to be done. "Whatever USPS does it does in a big way and we want to be a part of it " Fields said. CSC has done Year 2000 work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Health Care Financing Administration.

Although USPS considered awarding a full and open or an IDIQ contract an industry source said the agency felt ordering agreements would be quicker and provide access to a wider range of companies that provide Year 2000 work.

USPS is further ahead than most agencies in this respect said George Haynes research director at IDC Government. "To my knowledge not a lot of federal agencies have reached this point where they have established specific contracts for Year 2000 [conversion work] " Haynes said.

Many agencies have awarded a contract to do the initial assessment or plan but have not yet chosen vendors to do the actual conversion and testing he said. However this will likely change because Congress is pressing agencies to develop a detailed plan on how they will attack the Year 2000 problem.

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