USPS nixes $30M contract, opts for 'preferred' partners

The U.S. Postal Service last week canceled a $30 million contract for software to manage its air highway and rail transportation networks in favor of procuring the services under its recently announced "master" contracts.

The Transportation and Logistics Software contract called for winning vendors to provide custom-built software applications for routing scheduling optimization and performance analysis as well as computer-generated alert and monitoring systems. USPS planned to award three contracts at $10 million each.

The software would allow USPS to maintain a database of drivers vehicles service points schedules and routes and to be able to optimize and build routes across all modes of transportation. The software also would collect data for actual arrival and departure times and allow different user groups to perform different sets of systems functions.

Preferred Partner Agreements

Instead of going ahead with the contract which according to industry sources was close to award USPS opted instead to fulfill most of the requirements through its Preferred Partner/Supplier Agreements [FCW June 9]. These agreements aim to bring consistency and standardization to agency systems that traditionally have been developed in isolation.

USPS wants to have uniformity particularly in software development said Malvin Beller contracting officer at USPS which is why it chose to cancel the contract and use the preferred partner agreements. Through these master agreements which have yet to be awarded USPS will hire one vendor to develop software for each of the seven functional areas that cut across the government agency such as finance payroll and administration. Only one vendor will win in each area but one vendor can win up to two contracts.

Six vendors were pre-qualified to bid on the original $30 million contract: Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. Saber Group Edgewater Technology Telos Corp Battelle Memorial Institute and Litton/PRC Inc.

Tasks at Hand

Although USPS intends to use these preferred partner agreements instead of the original contract it will still issue two task orders valued at less than $1 million each to the six pre-qualified vendors on which to bid according to Beller. These firm-fixed-price task orders are expected to be released in the next few weeks he said.

Telos will be looking at the two task orders under development but it has not decided whether it will bid according to a company spokeswoman.

"We don't know what the requirements are or what the dollar amounts are " she said. "As soon as we get more details then we will make our own internal bid decision. The bottom line is we went after the original procurement because the Postal Service would be a great customer for Telos to have so if there is a good fit we intend to pursue it."

Many agencies in the government have come to realize that standardization is an important concept said Sam Graber market research analyst at Federal Sources Inc. McLean Va. Instead of having separate systems that cannot interoperate agencies such as USPS want to consolidate software development efforts. This is a smart move on USPS' part he said.

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