NOAA contract will aim to consolidate IT infrastructure

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects to award an information technology contract in early 2009 that will focus on consolidating and optimizing systems to help the agency operate more efficiently, said Zachary Goldstein, chief information officer at NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.

Although NOAA takes an agencywide approach when it comes to developing satellite, buoy and observation systems, “in the world of IT consolidation and infrastructure optimization, we’re sort of new to this,” Goldstein said during a panel discussion Nov. 19 sponsored by AFCEA International’s Bethesda, Md., chapter.

The consolidation approach has been successful for the agency’s satellite programs, and officials would like to realize the same benefits for its IT systems, Goldstein said.

“We want to get there in IT because we know the opportunities are great,” he said. “To get there, we need ways to jump-start” the agency’s efforts.

NOAA officials plan to release a draft request for proposals for the NOAALink contract in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. The final RFP is scheduled for the second quarter, with contract award set for the fourth quarter.

The contract could cover general-purpose IT systems, including e-mail and business functions. It also might include mission-specific IT systems, such as those used to create satellite images.

The Housing and Urban Development Department began a similar consolidation and optimization effort in 2005, said Mike Milazzo, acting deputy CIO for IT operations at HUD.

That agency’s officials opted to adopt a mostly outsourced infrastructure under the HUD IT Services contract, Milazzo said.

“Prior to awarding the HITS contract, our infrastructure was antiquated [with] almost no integration and a lack of standardization,” Milazzo said. “We really were unable to respond to customer or business requirements.”

Under the contract, HUD updated its data centers and desktop computers and consolidated 60 help desks. Using virtualization for its local-area networks and data-center servers led to an increase in use from 30 percent to 70 percent.

“For the most part, an outsourced infrastructure worked well for HUD,” Milazzo said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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