Air Force to hand off ops centers IT

Air Force officials are expected to announce Nov. 15 the highly anticipated procurement schedule to hire a lead systems integrator to manage information technology in the service's Air and Space Operations Centers.

Air Force acquisition and Defense Department IT officials discussed the seven-year, $600 million initiative Nov. 10. Service officials released the program's draft request for proposals (RFP) earlier that day.

Air Force officials plan to issue the program's final RFP in January 2005, with the contract award likely to occur next spring. They planned to release the RFP this past summer and have bids due in September, but earlier this year, service and industry executives convinced officials to make changes to the original draft solicitation.

Lockheed Martin officials announced last month that they would lead a team competing for the contract. Team members include IBM, L-3 Communications, Raytheon and Science Applications International Corp.

Air Force officials operate 46 information systems in command and control centers, in which military personnel plan, manage and execute bomber, cargo, fighter and refueling aircraft missions. They want to hire a company to use existing hardware and software, manage application and data growth, train new personnel to support soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and provide air commanders with command and control capabilities to better wage the war on terrorism.

Air Force leaders consider Air Operations Centers so important that in 2001, that they categorized them as weapons systems. They also learned from experiences in Iraq the importance of managing information and merging data systems, said Gen. John Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, during a Feb. 10 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

To view the draft RFP, go to: http://herbb.hanscom.af.mil/esc_opps.asp?rfp=R495

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