NASA plans fluid SEWP III contract

NASA's SEWP III Web site

The next iteration of NASA's contract to offer high-end workstations and

peripherals to scientific and engineering users governmentwide is focused

on keeping systems interoperable while encouraging the use of emerging systems

throughout the life of the contract.

The draft solicitation for NASA's Science and Engineering Workstation Procurement

(SEWP) III contract was released Oct. 12 and can be found on NASA's SEWP

III Web site (sewpiii.sewp.nasa.gov). Comments from industry and other interested

participants are due Oct. 26. While SEWP III seeks to enhance and maintain

the standard Unix environment that exists throughout NASA's scientific and

engineering community, it also strives to keep pace with the most current

commercial offerings.

NASA anticipates awarding firm-fixed price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity

contracts in nine computer systems and server classes and five supporting

equipment classes.

The previous two SEWP contracts have been popular governmentwide for users

of high-end Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT workstations. SEWP II contracts

will end in November. SEWP II receives about 1,000 orders per month and

has made $1.5 billion in sales during four years, according to Joanne Woytek,

SEWP manager for NASA.

The original SEWP contracts helped establish Unix as the unifying computer

system within NASA's scientific and engineering environment, according to

the draft request for proposals.

However, new trends such as the increasing use of the Windows NT operating

system and servers capable of efficiently running the Windows operating

system have emerged, forcing SEWP to adapt. Linux also is emerging as a

new research and development tool at NASA. And with the increased use of

the World Wide Web, networking and security have become more important and

are reflected in the draft specifications for equipment in SEWP III.

To minimize system incompatibilities and keep existing and future systems

interoperable, NASA will work within an open systems environment that requires

all systems offered to be Unix-based or interoperable with Unix.

SEWP III will also allow new vendors and technology to enter the contract

throughout the technology refreshment cycle, which will keep SEWP competitive

with what is commercially available.

NASA plans to use SEWP to demonstrate the latest in electronic procurement

methods. Although it has ended its relationship with NIC Commerce to design

an e-commerce site for the contract, NASA plans to partner with industry

to develop a virtual environment suited to this type of contracting for

smaller numbers of equipment.

SEWP III will also comply with Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act

of 1998, which requires all technology bought through the contract to be

accessible to federal employees with disabilities.

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