Standards agency consolidates services buys

The National Institute of Standards and Technology plans to consolidate scores of IT services buys, using a slate of vendors already approved by the Commerce Department.

'We wanted to streamline the procurement process, make it faster and less work for all involved, and get better control for the CIO's office to standardize the work done by contractors,' said senior analyst Rick Quintero, who is the contracting officer's technical representative for the project.

To figure out a way to better coordinate its IT services, NIST's CIO staff studied fiscal 2001 buys. It found the agency had 170 contract actions totaling about $5 million. Instead of NIST offices running their own IT services buys, the CIO team decided to roll these buys into an agencywide procurement that uses the Commerce IT Solutions program.

The COMMITS program gives small, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses access to the department's IT contracting. About 60 companies participate in COMMITS, which Commerce launched in 1999.

Handle with care

Besides giving the CIO a better handle on IT services NIST-wide, the agency's IT shop expects that the use of COMMITS will improve the agency's systems security and architecture planning, Quintero said.

The agency will not use all the COMMITS vendors. Instead, it will choose a group of the vendors to compete for NIST task orders worth about $6 million a year over five years, he said. NIST has dubbed this procurement the IT Services Consolidation Project.

In July, NIST solicited COMMITS vendors to participate in the program. Last month, the agency winnowed the list further and sought a second round of bids. Quintero said NIST will choose a small number of contractors by Oct. 23.

The exact number of vendors has yet to be determined. 'It will be a small number but large enough to have minicompetitions,' he said. 'There is no actual target number.'

Another goal of the process is to keep costs down by creating a fairly standard buying process, Quintero said. 'Hopefully, since it's a small number of contractors the competitions will run smoothly,' he said.

The agency solicitation identifies a range of services that will be available from the COMMITS vendors:
  • Web development, design, maintenance and administration

  • Database services

  • Software development

  • Systems administration, operation and maintenance

  • Help desk administration

  • Desktop system support and maintenance

  • Training

  • Policy and procedure development help

  • Security services

  • Systems integration.

The vendors will not provide hardware, software or consulting services. The vendors will work at NIST's campuses in Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo.

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