CSC nabs NSA outsourcing pact

The National Security Agency last week awarded an outsourcing contract for the maintenance and operation of several of its top-secret computer systems that for the first time involves the transition of NSA employees to the private sector.

Computer Sciences Corp. last week announced that it had won the NSA Breakthrough Program contract, which could be worth $20 million over five years. In addition to operating more than 10 classified computer systems for NSA, CSC also will offer hiring incentives and other employment benefits, including matching federal salaries, to current NSA employees who choose to join CSC or one of its subcontractors.

George Starkey, CSC's operations director, said CSC plans to transition 40 people— individuals eligible for early or regular retirement — from NSA to its own ranks by the end of the year.

The unique structure of the contract— with its stipulation of CSC hiring NSA employees as a part of the outsourcing— will be carefully watched by other government agencies interested in tackling similar concepts, said John Gulick, a CSC spokesman.

"This is the first time federal employees will leave federal service and transition to the private sector [under contract]. That's what makes this so unique," Gulick said.

In a statement provided to Federal Computer Week last week, NSA said the pilot program was designed to meet three goals: improve service levels and reduce costs for the maintenance of the systems, study and test outsourcing methods, and offer voluntary opportunities for employees to convert to the private sector.

Bert Concklin, president of the Professional Services Council, described the approach of transferring federal workers as an "extraordinarily innovative and creative strategy.

"It's bold; it's very bold," he said. "This is to my knowledge a first. As the title implies, it is a potential breakthrough design."

Under the contract, CSC will maintain computer systems operations and provide services such as development support for software enhancements, configuration management, installations and upgrades of hardware and software, and associated customer support.

Teaming with CSC are Data Procurement Corp. and Data Computer Corp. of America.


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