VA picks four for 'Peaches'


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The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded a $1.3 billion hardware, software and enterprise solutions contract to four prime contractors in a move to standardize equipment and drive down prices for the biggest civilian agency in government.

The winning vendors are Compaq Computer Corp., Micron Government Computer Systems LLC, GTSI Corp. and PlanetGov Inc. for the follow-on contract known as the Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software-2 (PCHS-2) contract, commonly called "Peaches."

"This contract offers us competition on every offering and gives us the opportunity to buy at the absolute best price," said John Gauss, chief information officer at the VA. "We get some process control by requiring the use of this contract."

The contract, awarded April 3, has a one-year base period with four one-year options. It would allow the VA to spread its contracting needs across multiple vendors, "who will be selling us standard configurations, which fit in nicely with enterprise architecture," Gauss said.

Gauss is one of the biggest champions of enterprise architecture in the federal government and is moving toward implementing a plan at the VA.

"The purpose of this contract was to achieve a degree of standardization and the enterprise architecture," Gauss said.

Chuck Kinzel, Compaq's VA account director, said the contract is designed to "set some standards as far as purchases and enterprise architecture."

"This will give them four vendors to choose from as far as a solution. It will limit how the VA buys and try to bring spending into a more structured environment," Kinzel said.

Under the contract, Compaq will provide an array of products that include advanced notebook and desktop PCs and customized, enterprisewide solutions to support VA missions, including the agency's medical imaging system at its 163 medical centers nationwide.

The first PCHS contract was awarded in 1997 to Compaq's federal unit and Micron Government Computer Systems, with a potential value of $741 million to each. So far, the VA has done more than $631 million worth of business through the contract, which provided desktops, laptops, servers and other products.

Although PCHS-2 looks like the older version of the procurement vehicle, Ray Bjorklund, a vice president at market research firm Federal Sources Inc., said it is important to see how the VA intends to use the contract.

"It's not so important that it's an old contract," he said. What's important is "what you do [with it] and how you build a new enterprise architecture contract."

The contract will include information technology solutions, networks, security, health care automation, software, e-business and other systems, such as wireless technology and imaging.

VA officials said that as the agency's enterprise architecture evolves, "changes may be necessary in the products offered to ensure compliance with enterprise architecture-approved initiatives."

GTSI, which is partnering with IBM Corp. for the contract, said it would be providing IT solutions such as networking, mobile and wireless technology, enterprise storage, e-business and imaging.

"We are especially delighted at the opportunity to join IBM in focusing specifically on VA needs with this important new contract vehicle," said Dendy Young, chairman and chief executive officer of GTSI.

Micron and PlanetGov declined to comment on the award.


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