15 vendors get ready for EIA Omnibus pact

The Energy Information Administration plans to use 11 new information technology contracts awarded last month to update its computer systems and networks as well as to maintain existing equipment and develop new agencywide software applications.

The pacts, among 15 total contracts awarded in three functional areas under the five-year EIA Omnibus procurement, are designed to support the agency's Information Technology Group, which provides hardware, software and telecommunications for the EIA. The remaining contracts, which also involve some IT-related tasks, will be used by other parts of the EIA to support the agency's work forecasting world energy supplies as well as managing EIA databases and distributing information to the public.

One vendor, Science Applications International Corp., will work in all three areas, while two others, Abacus Technology Corp., Chevy Chase, Md., and Z Inc., Silver Spring, Md., will compete in both the IT and data management areas.

Dolly Collier, the administrative contracting officer for the program, said the data management area would involve production of some electronic information products, such as CD-ROMs. The agency's primary mission is to collect, analyze and distribute data about energy resources and their use.

According to Collier, the EIA estimates it will spend $75 million through the contracts over the next five years, although she described that estimate as "still very iffy." Some of the contracts that the new pacts replace do not end until later this year, and the agency plans to use these existing contracts until they expire. Meanwhile, she said, the EIA may open the new contracts to other parts of the Energy Department, which could result in greater use.

Collier said the contracts will be used for new agency initiatives, but she did not have any details about these projects.

In its budget request for the current fiscal year, the EIA said it planned to eliminate its in-house mainframe computer, for a savings of $2.2 million and to increase the visits to its Internet site by 25 percent.

Mark Root, a spokesman for Unisys Corp., one of five incumbent vendors that won new contracts last month, said his company has been helping the EIA with facilities management and network integration, including upgrading some of the agency's systems to the Microsoft Corp. Windows NT operating system.

"Their applications have been traditionally mainframe-based," said William Willett, president of Management Systems Designers Inc., Vienna, Va., one of the other winners. "We do a lot of the old mainframe stovepipe support capability, and we're strong in local-area network, client/server applications," he continued.

Vendors will compete for most tasks under the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, Collier said, although the agency will be able to direct some tasks to the four vendors that qualify as small, disadvantaged businesses. That way the EIA can use the contracts, along with three other contracts let to small companies, to fulfill its small-business goals.

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