IT Bidders Strive for a STRICOM Presence

IT Bidders Strive for a STRICOM Presence

By Nick Wakeman, Staff Writer

The Army command that develops and runs the service's simulation and training programs is changing the way it conducts business, and that change is creating a lucrative opportunity for big and small systems integrators and IT services companies.

A wide range of companies are preparing bids for the Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command's Omnibus Acquisition. The command, known as STRICOM, has created the contract to roll into a single vehicle nearly all of its contracting activities.

The Omnibus contract is expected to be worth more than $4.5 billion over eight years. Bids are due June 22, with an award coming around Sept. 1.

The contract is divided into four areas, called business domains, and each domain is expected to have several winners. Contractors are not limited to bidding on one domain, so they can bid on all of them or any combination.

At least two small businesses will be awarded a contract in each of the domains. Nearly 30 companies are expected to submit bids, an industry source said.

Major companies pursuing the contract include Computer Sciences Corp., Litton-PRC Inc., Logicon Inc., Raytheon Co., Science Applications International Corp., and TRW Inc. Officials with Lockheed Martin Corp. said the company is closely following the contract and has not announced whether it is bidding as a prime or as a subcontractor.

Many of the companies bidding are trying to protect work they already are doing for STRICOM, said officials at some of the companies.

"We do a lot of infrastructure modernization work for them," said Jack Lautenschlager, vice president and general manager of command, control, communications and intelligence infrastructure systems for McLean, Va.-based PRC. "This is a strategic contract for us to continue to do that work."

PRC provides help desk, local area and wide area network services for STRICOM, which is based in Orlando, Fla., but has operations at Army bases around the country.

PRC is bidding as a prime on two of the domains and as a subcontractor on two others, but Lautenschlager declined to say on which domains or whose teams PRC is a subcontractor. "I think that would tip too much of our hand," he said.

"This is a real change in the way STRICOM is doing business," said Frank Simpkins, division manager of training and simulation systems for Logicon of Herndon, Va. Logicon is bidding as a prime on all four domains, but he said the company is not ready to announce its teammates.

Logicon, which is the IT unit for Northrop Grumman Corp. of Los Angeles, does have the other two divisions of Northrop Grumman on its team, the Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector and the Integrated Systems and Aerostructures Sector.

"We have been looking for opportunities that draw on the whole company," Simpkins said.

For its bid, CSC of El Segundo, Calif., is drawing heavily on the capabilities it picked up when it bought Nichols Research Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., last year, said James Sullivan, CSC spokesman.

"Our acquisition of Nichols and our inclusion of Nichols Modeling and Simulation Center of Excellence is an important part of our bid," Sullivan said.

CSC is planning to bid on all four domain areas, he said.

The shift from running individual procurements to a large indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, or IDIQ, contract is a significant change, Simpkins said. "This contract is going to offer them a complete suite of services," he said.

STRICOM's approach is similar to the Army Aviation and Missile Command Omnibus 2000 contract, a $2.5 billion contract awarded in early May to 12 companies.

STRICOM will have the capability of buying a wide breadth of services from high-end design and development work to operations and maintenance, Simpkins said.

Once the contract awards are made, the companies will still compete with each other for task orders. But acquisition activity under an IDIQ contract moves more quickly because procedures are streamlined and the contractors are "pre-qualified."

The move to the Omnibus contract is driven in part by STRICOM's shrinking procurement staff, an industry official said. The Omnibus contract will make it easier for STRICOM to manage its contractors because the prime contractors will have more program management responsibilities, the source said.

The contract's four domain areas are constructive, live, virtual and test-instrumentation systems. The constructive domain covers systems that run war games and automated simulations using large scale, complex, computer-driven models. These systems simulate large groups such as battalions, brigades and divisions.

The live domain covers the systems used to conduct training and simulations using live forces on the Army's ranges.

The virtual domain is for systems replicating warfighting equipment, systems and munitions for training individuals and crews of soldiers.

The test-instrumentation domain covers systems used to conduct developmental and operational testing of materiel, systems and weapons systems used in training and simulation exercises.

"It is nice to see an IDIQ that clearly identifies the work," said PRC's Lautenschlager. "Absolutely, there is real business here."

The contract easily could reach its $4.5 billion ceiling before its eight-year run is completed, an industry source said. The command spends about $1 billion a year on the types of services it is looking for under the contract, he said.

"Any company that has its shirt on right is looking at this opportunity," he said.

Besides the money, STRICOM is a good customer to have, he said. "They do a lot of leading-edge, advanced work," he said. "The work tends to be sexy."

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