Vendors ready to vie for HITS

The wait is over for vendors eagerly seeking a piece of the action from the $530 million HUD Information Technology Services (HITS) contract.

After months of delay, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued the HITS request for proposals March 5, outlining what it is looking for in the major technology initiative. Proposals are due April 29.

The contract, a two-year base with eight one-year options, would replace a $526 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. in 1990 and due to expire in 2003.

The performance-based contract would include automatic data processing and telecommunications services as well as hardware, enterprise engineering, software support and database management. It also would include disaster recovery, security and privacy protections.

Contractors have been waiting for this RFP for months, according to Lee Jahnke, director of telecommunications for Advanced Engineering and Research Associates Inc., which is seeking to become a subcontractor on the HITS project.

"There are a lot of opportunities here," he said. "It's fairly broad, and a company can find their niche and bring expertise to the table."

The contract has attracted the interest of many companies because of its length and depth, according to Guy Timberlake of telecom firm Netcom Technologies Inc.

"We're trying to build up our arsenal and this is a good opportunity. It has a lot of service requirements," he said.

The contract also has drawn the attention of some of the biggest companies in the field, including ACS Government Solutions Group, IBM Corp., Lockheed Martin Information Systems, Accenture and EDS. All have met with HUD in the past few months to get information about the development of the proposal.

HUD is looking for a new contract because its demand for automatic data processing and telecommunications systems have grown as it struggles to deal with huge volumes of financial data. The housing agency is looking to meet its current workload as well as deal with ongoing staff reductions and retirements projected in the next five years.

The system provides users with information on subjects such as housing and mortgage specifications. The current system, known as the HUD Integrated Information Processing Service handles more than 350,000 transactions a day. The HIIPS contract was estimated to save HUD millions of dollars by integrating the services of more than 200 subcontractors.

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