SSA taps Unisys for IWS/LAN follow-on

SSA taps Unisys for IWS/LAN follow-on

SSA's D. Dean Mesterharm says the follow-on contract is worth about $67 million to Unisys.

By Frank Tiboni

GCN Staff

The Social Security Administration will stick with Unisys Corp. for follow-on work to the Intelligent Workstation/LAN contract through which the agency has rolled out almost 70,000 PCs since 1996.

SSA last month awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract worth approximately $67 million to Unisys for an additional 6,000 Pentium III PCs and 261 LANs, said D. Dean Mesterharm, deputy commissioner for systems.

Training sites at the agency's 10 regional offices and at the Baltimore headquarters will get Compaq Computer Corp. PCs, and Dell Computer Corp. and IBM Corp. servers.

Unisys will begin in-stalling the hardware at the 11 sites later this month, said Stan March, director of SSA's Office of Information Technology Acquisition.

Buying into it

SSA used the National Institutes of Health's Chief Information Officers Solution and Partners government acquisition contract for the buy. For the first time, the agency required vendors to supply hardware from leading vendors, March said.

'We went with Unisys because of its price and technical performance,' March said. 'Since they have already installed 1,742 of our LANs, we have a high degree of confidence in them.'

The contract's first year, worth approximately $50 million, includes the installation of 400-MHz and 450-MHz Compaq PCs, Dell PowerEdge 2300 network servers and IBM NetFinity 7000 M10 enterprise servers. The contract's second and third years will cover technical support.

'This is an extremely significant award for Unisys because the IWS/LAN Phase II program will be an important information technology procurement vehicle for SSA for the next three years,' said T.J. Miller, Unisys vice president and general manager of IT solutions and federal systems.

Unisys will use about 200 people for the follow-on rollout. Besides the hardware installation, the company will also support software development, systems integration and maintenance services, said Lonnie Essex, Unisys' program director of federal systems.

'The IWS/LAN follow-on contract will allow SSA to continue to deploy LANs and associated services with virtually no start-up,' he said.

The seven-year, $280 million IWS/LAN contract awarded in June 1996 required Unisys to install and support 1,742 LANs running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. The vendor initially bought 100-MHz Pentium PCs from Win Laboratories Ltd. of Manassas, Va., to replace the IBM dumb terminals employees previously used to access data on IBM and plug-compatible mainframes [GCN, March 9, 1998, Page 38].

IWS/LAN ran into trouble last year when Unisys could no longer buy 100-MHz PCs because Intel Corp. had stopped manufacturing the 100-MHz Pentium chips.

Unisys offered SSA Pentium II PCs. But SSA officials balked because Unisys wanted to sell them to SSA at the contract's Year 1 prices, and the contract required Unisys to drop prices by half in Year 2 [GCN, April 6, 1998, Page 1]. Unisys and SSA eventually reached a deal on the PCs.

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