NIMA shopping for commercial imagery

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency will soon release a request for proposals (RFP) aimed at meeting its commercial satellite imagery needs in 2006 and beyond.

The RFP for the Nextview contract will be released "within the next month," said Sandy Jacks, NIMA's commercial imagery program manager.

She added that Nextview is separate from the Clearview awards made earlier this year, but the vehicles will overlap.

The two contracts collectively known as Clearview require commercial data providers to deliver high-resolution satellite imagery to NIMA. The awards went to DigitalGlobe Inc., which won a $72 million contract, and Space Imaging Inc., which received a $120 million deal.

Dan Hinchberger, a contracting officer at NIMA, said each deal's initial amount is the minimum guarantee over three years, but each has a ceiling of $500 million over five years.

"We're not buying a satellite or operating a satellite, we're buying imagery," Jacks said during a May 15 press briefing at NIMA offices in Bethesda, Md.

Bobbi Lenczwski, NIMA's technical executive, said the agency received a "tenfold increase" in funding for commercial satellite imagery purchases this year compared with fiscal 2002 levels, but "the funding we currently have does not saturate our need."

All actual NIMA budget numbers are classified.

The White House recently established a satellite policy that calls for the government to rely as much as possible on "commercial remote sensing space capabilities" to meet intelligence and military needs.

Lenczwski said the increased funding NIMA has received, combined with the Clearview and Nextview contracts and the vital role that commercial satellite imagery has played in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, already have the agency operating consistently with the new policy's guidelines and directives.

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