NASA's Great Experiment
Agiant NASA desktop outsourcing initiative has helped jump-start a governmentwide trend toward seat management that represents a new paradigm for IT operations within the government.
The space agency recently made awards for its 9-year, $13 billion Outsourcing Desktop Initiative (ODIN) contract to seven companies, a move that has the contracting community buzzing.
Under this effort, NASA centers should begin awarding delivery orders this fall to companies to take over management responsibilities for all desktop computers at the agency's nine major centers.
Other government agencies will be able to buy from ODIN contractors through the General Services Administration, which recently let a big-ticket outsourcing contract of its own. Called Seat Management, it's worth $9 billion over 10 years.
As Washington Technology contributing writer Heather Hayes reports in a wide-ranging agency profile (see page 26), the ODIN step is only the beginning for NASA.
On the horizon are many more space agency outsourcing opportunities, reports Hayes. That's because the agency wants to spend a lot less time on IT management and devote much more time to cutting-edge research and development and exploring the universe.
That's good news for vendors chomping at the bit for a chance to parlay private sector successes (read: significant savings) into public sector business. Whether it's also good news for agencies and the taxpayers who fund them remains to be seen. Let the billion-dollar plus experiment begin.
I want to congratulate you on the excellent article on procurement reform ["Critics Expose Dark Side of Procurement Reform" ] by Nick Wakeman in the July 16 issue of Washington Technology. It really captured the essence of one of today's hot topics and challenges the reader familiar with this subject to think harder about the issues.
From my own perspective, procurement reform has been enormously successful and has empowered the federal manager with the authority to make decisions. Any well-meaning but ill-advised attempts to re-legislate federal procurement policy and practices to remove the flexibility granted the federal manager would only bring back the cumbersome system Congress and the administration have successfully reformed.
President, Federal Systems
SRA International, Fairfax, Va.