Stage set for first ODIN pact

NASA is set to award in the next two weeks the biggest portion of its groundbreaking desktop PC outsourcing contract, a project vendors say will be a crucial step in determining whether agencies consider desktop outsourcing in the federal market.

The Outsourcing Desktop Initiative for NASA (ODIN) is one of the first large federal initiatives to allow agencies to privatize the desktop environment, and the contract is expected to generate $4 billion to $13 billion in business over its 10-year lifetime.

NASA plans to choose one vendor by the end of this month for 60 percent of its 50,000 potential seats. The successful bidder, chosen from seven ODIN contracts NASA awarded in June, will serve four NASA centers known within NASA as Code M: Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, Stennis Space Center and Kennedy Space Center.

NASA will choose another vendor around Oct. 23 to fulfill orders at Goddard Space Flight Center, known as Code Y, which makes up 15 percent of the agency's total seats. NASA's remaining four centers and headquarters will choose a vendor by the beginning of 2000.

"Everything is going well as far as the framework and intent of the contract," said Mark Hagerty, ODIN program manager.

Vying for the delivery-order awards at Goddard and the other centers are Boeing Information Services Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., DynCorp., FDC Technologies Inc., OAO Corp., RMS Information Services Inc. and Wang Government Services.

John Okay, senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., consulting firm, said the NASA awards will be closely watched by many federal executives who have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward seat management.

"Having some seats awarded in NASA is going to be an emotional lift for seat management, particularly if price bids come in at a range that other federal managers believe is reasonable," Okay said.

Under the contract, NASA will define the computer and communications capabilities for each job within the agency and purchase a particular bundle of hardware, software and communications products for each seat at a fixed price.

Drilling down to the specific needs of the Code M centers during due diligence provided additional data for the vendors, but it did not reveal any significant surprises, said Paul Taltavull, senior vice president at FDC. Still, he emphasized the significance of the upcoming awards not only for the volume of business but also for the implications for other NASA centers.

Hagerty said the remaining four centers— which represent about 20 percent of ODIN business— have not decided if they will choose a vendor for all the desktops or award separate contracts. The prices that the four centers and Goddard obtain in this month's awards will help the other centers determine which route to take, he said. NASA headquarters will pick a vendor on its own, Hagerty said.

Phil Davis, senior vice president of the aerospace systems group at OAO, which was awarded a contract in December to outsource the 8,000 desktops at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted that every win is crucial because of the newness of desktop outsourcing in the federal market.

"The [ODIN] multiple awards basically gave you a hunting license," Davis said. "Whoever wins...will be able to say, 'We are in this business and we understand what it takes.' "


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