Vendors line up for NASA ODIN deal

Seven vendors will vie this month for the award of the $5 billion Outsourcing Desktop Initiative for NASA (ODIN) for governmentwide outsourcing of hardware, software and services.

Together with a similar General Services Administration Seat Management contract, also scheduled for award this month, ODIN will be one of the first large federal efforts to privatize the management and operation of desktop computers and servers.

NASA is reviewing the best and final offers from the following companies that have submitted bids to prime the contract: Boeing Information Services Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., DynCorp., FDC Technologies Inc., OAO Corp., RMS Information Services Inc. and Wang Government Services Inc.

ODIN was intended to outsource equipment and services for all of NASA's 50,000 PCs, but under a December 1997 agreement, the contract was opened to all other government agencies. GSA's Information Technology Integration Center will handle orders from agencies other than NASA, while NASA will process its own orders.

The contract will give contractors the responsibility and risk of providing and managing the vast majority of NASA's desktop, server and other intracenter communications and services. In general, desktop services are to be provided on a per seat basis, where all required service components are bundled, and the services will follow NASA's IT architectures and standards.

NASA headquarters has indicated that ODIN would be awarded before the end of this month, and most of the competing vendors said they expect the award would come on time. Although NASA originally indicated the agency would award from two to five contracts under ODIN, some vendors have speculated that all seven would receive a contract.

However, that scenario could prove to be difficult for the 10 NASA centers— including headquarters— that will be using the contract, said Naren Bewtra, executive vice president at RMS, Fairfax, Va. "Think about a NASA center having seven large teams coming there during one month of due diligence," Bewtra said. "I would think there would be [fewer] than seven awards."

Some members of the vendor community believe NASA may award one contract that covers more than 50 percent of its seats to a single vendor and several other contracts for the remainder of the services. NASA could not be reached for comment.

No matter when it is awarded or how many vendors get the nod from NASA, the contract solicitation already has influenced the market. DynCorp early this year formed a subsidiary, TechServ, that is geared specifically to offer seat management services to the federal government. DynCorp assembled MicroAge Inc., XL Connect and DecisionOne to go after the NASA and GSA contracts.

"It's a new breed of contract," said Kari Garell, vice president of business development for DynCorp, Reston, Va. "Instead of buying labor categories, you're buying hardware and software services rolled into one. There are no federal government contractors that do this work. It's still relatively new in the commercial world; it's never been done in the federal government."

John Wayne, vice president of the systems integration group at FDC, Bethesda, Md., noted that ODIN represents a re-compete of several of the company's IT contracts at NASA. However, he said the company is positioning itself to respond to several other recent indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity recompetes that call for outsourcing hardware and services.

Bewtra said many federal government agencies will be drawn to ODIN because services offered are suited to a wide variety of users. "There is a spectrum of low-end [users] to high-end [users]," he said. "Some users will use [ODIN] for administrative purposes, some users will use [it] for high-end scientific applications."

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