NASA pact attracts dot-coms

The upcoming follow-on to NASA's popular Science and Engineering Workstation

Procurement is already attracting a new breed of potential competitors:

dot-com start-ups that hope to take electronic procurement to the next level.

On June 19, NASA announced its plan to release a draft solicitation

by June 30 for SEWP III, which, like its predecessors, will serve as one

of the government's main sources for Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT-based

workstations, peripherals and network equipment.

The space agency plans to release a formal request for proposals by

about July 30 and plans to award 14 contracts to commence when SEWP II contracts

end in November.

In its past two iterations, SEWP blazed the trail from electronic data

interchange to the more modern methods of electronic purchasing.

Some of the newest resellers in industry — PCMall.com, PulsarData.com

and iGov.com — hope their e-business strategies will make them competitive.

"We hope to build on the success of SEWP II," said Joanne Woytek, SEWP

manager for NASA. SEWP II receives about 1,000 orders per month and has

made $1.5 billion in sales during four years, she said.

Walter Hupalo, vice president of contracts at iGov.com, a 4-year-old

government reseller, said he is trying to devise a strategy that will make

iGov.com competitive in a procurement that is traditionally awarded to computer

manufacturers such as Dell Computer Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard

Co., IBM Corp. and Silicon Graphics Inc.

Only a few resellers and integrators, such as GTSI Corp., have captured

SEWP contracts.

"We'll see what we can do to differentiate ourselves," Hupalo said.

One possible angle is iGov.com's focus on the supply chain, he said.

The company said it could provide everyone involved in the procurement process — from the manufacturers to the NASA program managers to the end customers — with the same information, making it easier for them to manage the procurement

process, he said.

"E-commerce — e-procurement — is starting to put some smooth edges on

that."

PulsarData.com is also taking a look at what it can offer, which includes

e-purchasing capabilities mixed with hardware reselling and parent company

Litronic Inc.'s history in Internet data security, said Yvette Foucher,

Pulsar-Data.com proposal manager.

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