GSA rolls out requirements for Seat Management buy

The General Services Administration has released the first of two requests for
proposals for the multibillion-dollar Seat Management Services contract.


GSA will use the first phase of the buy to validate bidders. The agency plans to
release the second RFP by mid-November.


Under what program manager Wanda Smith called a very ambitious schedule, GSA hopes to
award contracts March 2 that would let federal agencies outsource their desktop computing
needs.


GSA did not give a value estimate for the 10-year, multiple-award indefinite-delivery,
indefinite-quantity program, but Robert J. Woods, outgoing director of GSA's Federal
Telecommunications Service, has predicted it will dwarf the multibillion-dollar FTS 2001
long-distance telephone service buy.


Under the Seat Management scenario, agencies would use governmentwide contracts to buy
desktop computing as a service with periodic upgrades.


The contracts will cover asset management, infrastructure management and user support.
The contractors will keep ownership of the hardware and software. Seat Management Services
will include a base set of services, categorized in levels. Agencies will be able to
integrate other services into the base set as needed, Smith said.


The winning vendors' services will range from supplying PCs to providing suites of
products. Agencies also will be able to have vendors upgrade software, handle maintenance
and integrate PCs into agency networks, said Charles Self, assistant commissioner of GSA's
office of Information Technology Integration.


Agencies will pay vendors monthly for the services they buy, Self said, but it is not a
lease or rental program. "Agencies would simply pay monthly for a service," Self
said.


The contracts will not be mandatory, but "Seat Management Services cannot be
acquired a la carte," the program office said in a written statement. That would
destroy the efficiencies anticipated from an integrated, full lifecycle desktop approach,
Smith said.


Vendor interest in the program has been high, she said. Her office staff members talked
with more than 30 companies in developing the initial RFP. The concept was introduced in
May, and the telephones did not stop ringing until the RFP was posted, Smith said.


Indeed, at the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference in Richmond,
Va., last week, there was much talk about Seat Management Services. Officials from IBM
Corp., FDC Technologies Inc. of Bethesda, Md., Government Technology Services Inc. of
Chantilly, Va., and Computer Sciences Corp. said their companies would offer bids.


Several vendors said they would lead teams of contractors. Few companies are likely to
have all the products and services that GSA is seeking for Seat Management.


FDC will team with Comdisco Inc. of Rosemont, Ill., Entex Information Services Inc. of
Rye Brook, N.Y., Unisys Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and a host of
smaller companies, said Stirling Philips, FDC's vice president of corporate marketing.


IBM will team with OAO Corp. of Greenbelt, Md., said John Nyland, vice president of
marketing for IBM's Global Government Industry group.


"We look at seat management as a several hundred million dollar opportunity,"
Nyland said.


The RFP is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.gsa.gov/iti.


Through Seat Management, the government will be able to take advantage of commercial
practices, said the program's chief technical officer, P. Christopher Wren.


"It has been fine-tuned over the last three to four years" by private
companies, Wren said.


GSA will heavily weight the initial bidder qualification on past performance, Wren
said. Responses to the RFP are due Nov. 5.


The agency will use the initial bids to solicit vendors' ideas on details of how seat
management might work, Self said.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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