PricewaterhouseCoopers snares Army e-learn contract

An industry team led by PricewaterhouseCoopers has walked away with a $453

million Army contract for what is being billed as the world's biggest distance-learning


Army Secretary Louis Caldera Dec. 14 announced the award for the service's

massive initiative known as Army University Access Online, which is scheduled

to kick off next month. The project is expected to provide soldiers with

access to an online education anywhere in the world, whether for an associate's,

bachelor's or master's degree or for technical certification.

"This cutting edge, cyberspace program will provide unprecedented educational

opportunities for our soldiers," Caldera said. "It reinforces the Army's

long-term commitment to investing in its people."

The program is designed to aid the service in recruiting, training and

retaining technically savvy soldiers. It is also an acknowledgment, Army

leaders said, that the service now competes more against higher education

institutions than against the commercial job sector for young recruits.

Caldera bills the effort as a way for soldiers to join the Army and

continue their education, rather than choose one over the other. "This strategic

alliance with PricewaterhouseCoopers and its unique team opens a new doorway

to personal growth — allowing America's soldiers to earn post-secondary

degrees or technical certifications online anytime, anywhere, anyplace,

while they serve."

The five-year contract calls for providing a distance learning portal

to more than 80,000 soldiers and putting in place the fundamental architecture

needed for worldwide access. The initiative will begin at three U.S. locations:

Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Benning, Ga.

Soldiers committing to the program will be assigned a laptop computer

and printer, which will become theirs if they stick to the educational plan.

The first three soldiers to sign up — Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Matthews, Sgt.

Christopher Jones and Staff Sgt. Keva Wallace — attended the contract announcement

and were awarded their Compaq Computer Corp.'s Presario laptops and color


"I think this program's great. Lucky for me, I get the free computer

and 100 percent of my tuition paid for. This program can open the door for

many people to serve their country and attain their personal goals at the

same time," Jones said.

The Army made a smart move awarding the contract to PricewaterhouseCoopers,

Sen. Robert Kerrey (D-Neb.) said.

"They could have selected an educational vendor as the prime vendor,

but instead they selected a systems manager as the prime vendor, and what

that is likely to produce is tremendous benefits for customers," Kerrey

said. "The customer is likely to see increased quality, decreased price."

The winning team includes Compaq, PeopleSoft Inc., Blackboard Inc.,

Fiberlink Communications Corp., Precision Response Corp., Intel Online Services

Inc., LESCO Inc., TurboTec and SMARTHINKING Inc. Also on the team are nearly

30 colleges and universities, including Florida State University, Indiana

University, The University of Alabama, University of Texas-Arlington, Northern

Virginia Community College and Anne Arundel Community College.


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