GSA Sales a Brisk Business

GSA Sales a Brisk Business <@VM>FDC, Microsoft Join Hands <@VM>Internet Testbed Takes Shape <@VM>Software Firms Get Urge to Merge <@VM>Iridium, Teligent Begin Services <@VM>Year 2000 Costs Swell

Business at the General Services Administration grew at a blistering pace in fiscal 1998 as sales through the GSA Federal Technology Service shot up 36.5 percent to $3.4 billion, according to preliminary agency figures.

The early returns indicate the growth spurt was led by the Federal Technology Service's Information Technology Solutions business line, which saw revenue jump 51.5 percent over fiscal 1997 to $2.3 billion. The Information Technology Solutions business line includes GSA schedules, multiple award contracts and 8(a) contracts.

Final figures should be released by mid-November after a review by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Bob Suda, chief financial officer for the Federal Technology Service, credited GSA's adoption of streamlined acquisition processes for increasing the agency's business. As a reward, all 1,300 employees of the Federal Technology Service are receiving either a day off with pay or an extra day's pay.

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Federal Data Corp. and Microsoft Corp. announced an alliance this week aimed at the federal government. FDC of Bethesda, Md., will work with Microsoft on systems solutions and consulting in areas such as messaging and collaboration, electronic commerce, network integration and systems accessibility.

Under the pact, the companies will exchange technical expertise and information related to the needs of the federal government in areas such as electronic commerce, collaborative systems and data center operations. FDC also will host "Federal Executive Roundtable Discussions" to identify technology requirements of federal agencies. In addition, the company will open a Microsoft Solutions Center in Bethesda to demonstrate Microsoft products.Key federal and university research centers have been authorized to build an advanced testbed network to link their centers as part of the Next Generation Internet Research Act of 1998 signed by President Clinton last week.

The act creates a new research program in advanced communication technologies. It calls on the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, NASA and National Institute of Standards and Technology to work with American business and academic communities.

The testbed network will allow research teams to develop new Internet techniques and demonstrate how they can advance a wide range of critical research initiatives, such as telesurgery and other medical services.
BMC Software Inc. of Houston plans to buy fellow software vendor Boole & Babbage Inc. in an all-stock deal worth $900 million. Boole & Babbage of San Jose, Calif., makes software to increase the availability and service-level management for distributed systems, while BMC makes software to help the performance of enterprisewide business-critical applications.

The combined company will have about $955 million in revenue. The acquisition was announced this week and is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory and boards of directors approval.A pair of Washington area companies promising revolutionary telecommunications systems commenced service within days of each other. After 11 years of development, Iridium of Washington opened its global satellite phone and paging system to customers Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, Teligent of Vienna, Va., targeted 10 U.S. markets Oct. 27 with a sales and marketing blitz for its new integrated communications services.

Iridium uses 66 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide service to hand-held phones virtually anywhere on the planet.

Teligent is offering local, long distance, high-speed data and dedicated Internet services to small and medium-sized businesses.

The first markets for the service, which uses compact high-frequency radio antennas, are: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Houston; Dallas; San Antonio; Austin, Texas; Washington; Denver and Tampa, Fla. By January, the company plans to add the services in San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Miami; Orlando, Fla., and Jacksonville, Fla.The portion of IT budgets going to fix year 2000 date code problems is skyrocketing, according to market research firm Gartner Group of Stamford, Conn.

In 1997, government and commercial groups spent 5 percent of their IT budgets on year 2000 fixes. In 1999, that percentage will be 44 percent. Gartner estimates that fixing the problem worldwide will cost between $300 billion and $600 billion.

At a conference this week in Cannes, France, Gartner analyst Andy Kyte said European governments have been lagging in their year 2000 work, and problems with welfare and hospital systems could start appearing by the end of this year. The Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland, however, escaped Kyte's list of poor performers.

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