DOD, Commerce join forces to digitize technical bid data

It costs the federal government as much as $1 billion a year to assemble and deliver
technical data packages on CD-ROM or aperture cards, at no cost to the bidders.


DLA employees are eager to streamline this phase of the procurement process.


"We want to get to where we do everything electronically," said Pat Lane,
technical data manager for the Defense Supply Center in Richmond.


In January, the Commerce Department's National Technical Information Service signed its
first memorandum of agreement with the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense to
deliver unclassified technical data electronically on behalf of the Defense Department.


The hazards of getting and sustaining such high-level commitments are par for the
course in departmentwide projects, said Rick Clark, a senior procurement analyst in the
Logistics Lifecycle Information Integration Office.


Clark, a veteran of government electronic commerce projects, called the politics 10
times worse at the highest levels than in the field, where "people want to do things
like this. They want to do their jobs well."


It's one thing to acquire EC data and "a whole other matter to hold onto it once
you've got it," said Michael Williams, NTIS business development specialist. Changes
at the top in the administration and the various military commands require
"constantly revisiting projects to keep them alive."


Williams said he expects to have at least two DLA sites and each of the military
services involved in the Technical Data Package Material Information System (TDPMIS) pilot
by mid-January.


After that, the Logistics Lifecycle Information Integration Office will decide whether
to conduct a second pilot round or push on to all 35 DOD repositories that maintain Type A
engineering drawings.


The engineering drawing repositories won't have to install any extra hardware or
software to participate in the electronic distribution activity, Williams said.


T1 lines will link two NTIS servers to sites that have drawings. Dual-processor
Hewlett-Packard Co. HP 9000 I70 reduced-instruction-set-computing servers running HP-UX
will attach to a dual-ring, 100-megabit/sec Fiber Distributed Data Interface network.


The NTIS servers will be the only non-DOD servers on the Defense Information Systems
Network backbone.


Bidders will pay a small fee for immediate access to the technical data packages they
need to respond to solicitations.


This year's Quadrennial Defense Review concluded that DOD organizations should cut
costs by $60 billion a year to pay for new hardware and software needed by U.S. combat
forces. "We can no longer do business the way we used to. That's the bottom
line," Clark said.


The first pilot site at Richmond will begin operating entirely under the new electronic
distribution system in January, said project manager Richard Payne of Coopers &
Lybrand, which is managing the NTIS project.


NTIS, meanwhile, is encouraging vendors to create commercial World Wide Web sites based
on TDPMIS. "The more sites there are, the better," Williams said. "It'll
keep prices competitive and give customers more options for having documents delivered to
them electronically."


He said NTIS is developing the technical data component of electronic commerce by
fostering relationships with vendors.


For more information about TDPMIS, contact NTIS' Mike Williams at 703-487-4282.


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