HCFA will use ODIN to try seat management

The Health Care Financing Administration plans to negotiate a seat management-like task
order by late June, using the Outsourcing the Desktop Initiative for NASA program.


HCFA officials last month received bid proposals and heard oral presentations from ODIN
contractors.


“We wanted to get a feel for [seat management]. We were willing to jump in up to
our ankles but not up to our necks,” said Marianne Bowen, project manager for
HCFA’s Desktop Replacement Initiative. “This is not complete seat
management” because it does not include network or help desk support.


The Health and Human Services Department agency’s one-year task order will have
two one-year options. Through the deal, HCFA users will acquire PC hardware, software,
asset management and technical refreshment, said Melissa Starinsky, a HCFA contracting
officer in Baltimore.


Agency officials would not estimate the value of the project, which will serve HCFA
headquarters in Baltimore and 10 regional offices.


Bowen said HCFA officials chose ODIN instead of the General Services
Administration’s Seat Management Program because it allowed more flexibility. On GSA
Seat Management contracts, she said, “agencies have to commit to a certain level over
a period of time, like LAN support over two or three years. HCFA wasn’t ready to make
that commitment.”


Agency officials would not name the ODIN vendors that submitted bids for the Desktop
Replacement Initiative. HCFA will award the order on a best-value basis, with
consideration of a vendor’s past performance, Bowen said.


HCFA officials also considered leasing options through GSA’s Information
Technology Schedule contracts, but “you need to stack several GSA schedules” to
cover hardware, software and installation, Bowen said. “We were looking for an
integrated approach,” she said.


The HCFA Desktop Replacement Initiative will be the first ODIN delivery order outside
NASA, said Juanita Harvey, contracting officer at the GSA Seat Management Program Office.
GSA, which handles all ODIN delivery orders outside NASA, has given HCFA permission to
administer the deal, she said.


The Desktop Replacement Initiative will bring 4,500 HCFA workers the same baseline PC
capabilities but better interoperability than before, Bowen said. It also will support
electronic communications with contractors and vendors. “We need to stay in the same
IT arena as the rest of the industry,” she said.


HCFA currently has what she called a mishmash of 486 and Pentium PCs running Microsoft
Windows 3.1, Windows 9x and Windows NT Workstation 4.0.


The agency provides health insurance for 74 million Americans through the Child Health,
Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Internal Customer Support office, a sister office to
the Chief Information Office that also reports to HCFA’s chief of operations, is
managing the Desktop Replacement Initiative.


With no single PC brand dominant at HCFA, “employees won’t be that
upset” if the winning bidder replaces all their systems with a single brand, Bowen
said. “There aren’t that many high-powered systems. The products that a vendor
provides aren’t as important as the services.”


National Software Testing Laboratories Inc. of Conshohocken, Pa., a third-party testing
company, evaluates all the products bid under ODIN and makes quarterly reports about
acceptable technical refreshment practices for seat management.


The arrangement will let HCFA “focus staff resources on future plans rather than
on day-to-day PC management,” Bowen said. “There will be no outsourcing of jobs
whatsoever.” The installation of PCs is set to start within six weeks of the
projected June award and end by late September, Bowen said.


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