Army opts for BPAs to buy software, peripherals, chips

The Army Small Computer Program office last week decided to cancel plans for an indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract for PC software peripherals and chip upgrades opting instead for blanket purchase agreements that will be more limited in scope.

The Standard System Technology Support-1 (SSTS-1) contract which would have been worth less than $100 million was intended as a companion vehicle to the Army's major computer contracts PC-1 PC-2 Portable-1 and Portable-2.

The program office decided to cancel the IDIQ because of potential legal tangles. As a major component of the contract the Army wanted customers who had bought older machines to have a vehicle for quickly upgrading Intel Corp.'s Pentium chips for example pulling out a 75 MHz processor and replacing it with a 133 MHz chip said Anthony Battista fielding team leader with the Small Computer Program Fort Monmouth N.J.

However the final manufacturing on Intel's chips is done in Malaysia. Selling foreign-built chips is not a problem if they are provided as part of a larger system but selling chips on a stand-alone basis violates U.S. trade regulations Battista said. Rather than put together an IDIQ strictly for software and peripherals the Army decided to follow the example set by the Navy and other federal agencies and award the BPAs based on products available on the General Services Administration schedule. The final details have not been decided but the Army expects to award BPAs for software and peripherals probably with two awards in each category.

The BPAs may appeal to the vendors participating in the Army's PC and Portable contracts.

"Sysorex [Information Systems Inc.] does have an interest in participating in any BPAs the Army may consider in lieu of SSTS-1 " said Carleton Jones president of Sysorex which holds contracts on the PC-2 and Portable-2 programs.

Industry sources said BTG Inc. and Government Technology Services Inc. had been interested in SSTS-1 and may look into the BPAs. BTG is a prime on PC-2 and GTSI is a prime on Portable-2. A spokeswoman for BTG said the company was planning to pursue the BPAs.

GTSI officials could not be reached for comment.

Robert Guerra president of Guerra and Associates said the BPAs will prove a more favorable bidding environment than SSTS-1. He said the SSTS-1 procurement's mandatory requirements such as Year 2000 certification made for a high-risk deal while the procurement's $8 million to $10 million annual sales stream offered a relatively minimal return. He added that it would have cost vendors up to $400 000 to bid. "It's not worth the revenue " he said.

Other BPAs to Come

The Army's software and peripheral BPAs will not be the first awarded by the Small Computer Program office. By the end of this month the Army first expects to award BPAs for visual information products such as large-screen projectors and digital cameras. If the program proves popular the Army may add such products as camcorders and motion picture experts group editing software Battista said.

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