USAID picks CSC for Y2K fix, gear

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), one of a few agencies that are the furthest behind schedule in fixing computers for the Year 2000 problem, last month awarded a $192 million task order to Computer Sciences Corp. to make millennium date repairs to its legacy systems and otherwise modernize its information systems.

The five-year deal includes Year 2000-related upgrades to USAID's problem-plagued New Management System (NMS), which has landed the agency on the Office of Management and Budget's Year 2000 critical list. OMB places agencies on the list that have shown insufficient progress in making Year 2000 fixes on mission-critical computer systems.

John Streufert, director for information resources management with USAID, said the contract is a major step toward Year 2000 compliance for his agency. "We have got a long way to go before we have confidence that every objective will be met, but this contract award is clearly an important step in our recovery," he said.

''They've already evaluated their equipment and operating systems,'' said Gerald Page, vice president with CSC's Civil Group. ''We'll certainly bring in any experience we have and finish anything that has not been done. We will have to carry out renovations on legacy systems as well as the new management system.''

Repairing NMS will be a priority because it has ''the most challenging schedule requirement,'' Streufert said. After repairing NMS, CSC will help the agency plan and develop the next version of the system, which, Streufert said, the agency wants to deploy to its 79 field offices.

CSC will replace half the agency's 7,600 PCs with Year 2000-compliant machines and replace the software for all those systems, although the hardware and software will be purchased through blanket purchase agreements with General Services Administration schedule holders. USAID plans to have those BPAs in place later this month. In addition, CSC will help USAID update its worldwide telecommunications networks.

The pact consolidates two dozen projects now being developed under more than a dozen contracts. Streufert said that during the next two to three years, all these projects will be given to CSC to supervise.

USAID reported to OMB that it planned to spend more than $39 million on Year 2000 fixes. According to budget data compiled by Colmar Corp., a market research firm in Reston, Va., USAID plans to set aside $344 million for all its information technology expenditures between now and 2002.

Olga Grkavac, senior vice president with the Information Technology Association of America's Systems Integration Division, said the award "sounds like a good start. [USAID] needs to devote very, very significant resources to this problem,'' she said. ''We're talking about an agency that is in serious, serious trouble, and [it needs] to get as much help as [it] can."

A Year 2000 report card issued last week by Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) gave USAID an F for its progress in repairing its systems. Horn's report, based on data provided by the agency to OMB, said only 14 percent of the agency's mission-critical systems were Year 2000-compliant, and only 17 percent were expected to be completely renovated and tested by the Clinton administration's March 1999 deadline (see story, Page 10).

''Right now, Horn's estimate is that [USAID] will not have its mission-critical systems renovation [completed] until well into the next decade,'' said Russell George, staff director to Horn's Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee. ''If this new development with CSC helps to alter that, we're pleased, but a lot needs to be done.''

Out of seven systems on its priority list, USAID has fixed one. Five more, including NMS, will be renovated, Streufert said, and the agency is discussing whether it should outsource or repair one system. The agency decided to retire one legacy system following a cost/benefit study last February.

The CSC pact was awarded under an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract through GSA's Federal Systems Integration and Management Center.

Tim McCurdy, acting director of Fedsim, said the buy was the largest task order ever issued by his group— ''about double'' the largest previous award.

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