Air Force goes for the GOLD

Lockheed Martin Corp. will use GOLD to build the Air Force Standard Base Supply System
under the $304 million Global Combat Support System-Air Force contract. Andersen
Consulting of Chicago also bid GOLD on its separate Air Force Integrated Maintenance Data
System contract (IMDS).

 Because both Lockheed and Andersen bid the same product, the Air Force asked the two
contractors to merge their programs and produce an integrated supply and maintenance
system based on GOLD.

 "We're working now to rebuild the organization to pull this off,"
Besselman said.

 Lockheed Martin also is trying to get the other services interested in GOLD for
logistics, said Stephen Lubniewski, vice president of Lockheed Martin Federal Systems.
Lockheed is the prime contractor for the Army's Sustaining Base Information Services
contract. Like GCSS, the SBIS program includes a complete overhaul and modernization of
base-level combat support systems.

 The Air Force wanted a commercial logistics product from GCSS bidders and regards
GOLD as a 70 percent to 80 percent solution, Besselman said. Of the additional
military-specific interfaces the Air Force requires, he said, "We'll build on top,
and not violate the commercial integrity of the product."

 However, some of the custom functions will roll back into the commercial product and
be maintained by Western Pacific Digital Systems itself. "That's one of the key
benefits of the commercial approach. Everyone moves forward with the product," said
Paul Madaio, the company's business development director. Maintenance for other custom
functions will be the responsibility of the Air Force.

 GOLD collects a number of application modules that users can configure to their
specific needs. The primary modules, Madaio said, manage supply activities, repairs and
work in process. There is a calibration module and an asset management module.

 GOLD grew out of the aerospace and defense contracting environment, "where you
have large contractors with big government contracts providing logistics support,"
Madaio said. It builds on the best from the commercial world but has the look and feel of
a government logistics system, he said. 


Western Pacific built the client-server version of GOLD with the Uniface
fourth-generation language from Compuware Corp. of Farmington Hills, Mich. The 4GL has a
reputation for openness and native support for nearly every present and future database
and graphical user interface.

 As one of these technologies "leapfrogs over the other," in Madaio's
words, the Air Force can use what's new without having to replace its application
software.

 That degree of openness is important to the Air Force, Besselman said, because DOD
someday would like all its combat support systems to share data. Ideally, he said, the Air
Force could stop writing interfaces and do away with bandwidth-hogging transactions
between systems.

 That data sharing won't come all at once. "We hope to achieve it initially with
the GOLD maintenance and supply system," Besselman said. "That's the guinea
pig."

 The Air Force supply system that GOLD will replace is a Cobol application dating
from the 1960s. The code that has evolved over 30 years "looks like a bunch of
spaghetti," Besselman said. "It's very difficult to understand how things
work."

 The new supply system will be fielded before the year 2000. IMDS, the maintenance
portion, will have a later delivery date because of its greater complexity, Besselman
said. It must work with many different types of aircraft and ground support systems.


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