BOP taps two vendors for network buy

The Bureau of Prisons earlier this month awarded blanket purchase agreements to Vanstar Government Systems Inc. and Intellisys Technology Corp. for providing the bureau with all the hardware, software and services it needs to maintain its networks.

Products and services supplied under BOPnet 2000 will support existing local-area networks at the bureau as well as the bureau's wide-area network, which connects BOP headquarters, six regional offices and about 90 federal prisons. The total estimated value of the BPAs over five years is $50 million.

The agency is not looking to revamp the networks, according to a BOP spokeswoman, but simply update its technology. "This is basically going to enhance and replenish our LANs and WAN," the spokeswoman said. "We have no complaints. We just want to be modern and have [the networks] respond quickly."

BOP also wanted to update its contract vehicle, moving from traditional indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts to BPAs. With the BPAs, "we can obtain our products more quickly," the spokeswoman said.

The previous BOPnet program ended April 30 after a three-year run with a joint venture that included Intellisys and Concept Automation Inc., which together pulled in $50 million to $60 million off the contract, according to the agency.

The BOP networks are built on a Novell Inc. networking operating system and rely on software such as Corel Corp.'s WordPerfect for word processing and Novell's GroupWise for e-mail, said Bruce Johnson, president of Intellisys.

Information shared over the LANs and WAN can run the gamut from policy documents to administrative records to information on specific prisoners. "It could be anything from [human resources] issues to 'we have to move Prisoner A to Facility X,' " said Tricia Reneau, director of marketing for Vanstar Government Systems.

According to Reneau, BOPnet 2000 represents a foot in the door at BOP for Vanstar Government Systems, which was known as Sysorex Information Systems Inc. before its acquisition last year by Vanstar Corp., a large commercial reseller.

Moreover, the contract will mark an opportunity for the former Sysorex to bring to a federal customer an expanded line of products. "Before Vanstar, we were pretty much an IBM shop. With the acquisition by Vanstar, we have been moving very much to the Vanstar model," Reneau said. That model, she said, includes products by Compaq Computer Corp. and Gateway Inc., Vanstar's two "partners" on the BOPnet 2000 BPA.

For Intellisys, the award brings to the company another chance to prove that it has what BOP is looking for, according to Johnson. "Essentially, what we want to maintain is a high level of user satisfaction with essentially what BOP has developed under the first BOPnet," he said.

An enhanced BOPnet will result in greater efficiency at the bureau as employees are able to share more information more rapidly and more easily, Reneau said. "Any time you automate an office, it has some basic benefits. This is fundamental to IT," she said.

But getting that business may be a bit of an uphill battled for Vanstar, according to Bob Dornan, senior vice president at federal IT procurement consulting firm Federal Sources Inc., McLean, Va.

With incumbent Intellisys— a small player in the federal arena— coming back to the BOPnet program, Vanstar may face a challenge in competing for business with Intellisys, he said.

But according to Dornan, Vanstar "flat-out knows" how to hone in aggressively on procurement dollars.

Already with its short time in the federal market, the company has inherited or won high-profile contracts such as the $1.5 billion Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the $500 million Army Personal Computer-2 contract.

"Vanstar seems to be doing pretty well," Dornan said. "They've got a bunch of major contracts, and their schedule is starting to take off."

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