AF lab taps two under Answer

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, last month tapped two vendors for a broad range of information technology support services, replacing older contract vehicles with services available under a General Services Administration contract.

With the signing of the five-year, $43 million deal, the Air Force shifted gears and turned away from older support contracts in favor of GSA's $25 billion Applications 'N' Support for Widely Diverse End-user Requirements (Answer) program. The new contract will provide research labs more flexibility to tap into the bevy of Answer vendors supplying systems analysis and design, software maintenance, facilities management support and network support services.

The first task orders from the Air Force went to DynCorp for $32 million over four years and Litton/PRC Inc. for $7 million over five years.

Ed Davis, chief information officer for the sensor directorate, one of five directorates of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson, said using the Answer program "will simplify the process of providing support services" for the lab. Davis said Answer will offer more flexibility at an equivalent or lower cost than the older support contracts. "It took us a year and a half to put the old contracts together, and nobody has time to do that again," Davis said.

Dennis Brown, vice president and general manager of Litton/PRC's infrastructure systems in the company's Defense systems business unit, said the Answer contract will enable the research labs to consolidate all of their support requirements under one vehicle. In addition, it enables the labs to take advantage of 160 Litton/PRC staff members who provide general IT support services throughout Wright-Patterson, he said.

"The desire was to get more efficiency under one contract, and they have been very forward-looking when it comes to centralized management of IT to get more mileage out of their contracts," Brown said.

Bill Kline, CIO of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate, said the intent behind moving to Answer was to ascertain "value-based prices" for support services. "Price alone is a real loser," Kline said. Because each year on the Answer contract is an option year - the Air Force can change vendors whenever it feels the service being provided is sub-par - competition is "built in," Kline said.

GSA awarded the Answer contract in December to 10 vendors: Anteon Corp., Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., DynCorp, EER Systems Inc., Information Systems Support Inc., ITS Corp., Litton/PRC, Logicon Inc. and Science Applications International Corp.

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