Perot wins $145M NIH research deal

Perot Systems Government Services has won a five-year, $145 million follow-on contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to provide continuing information technology support for the division's research facilities on three continents.

NIAID, a division of the National Institutes of Health, has been conducting research into infectious, immunologic and allergic diseases for 50 years, leading to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests and other technologies to improve health. The company will support operations in the United States, Africa and South Asia.

The new award has two parts, said Jim Ballard, president of Perot Systems Government Services. The contract calls for standard IT assistance at NIAID headquarters in Bethesda, Md., including desktop, network operations and help desk support. "That's the typical things that you might do for any agency to make sure they have an operating IT infrastructure," he said.

The second part involves assisting NIAID researchers working outside the United States. "They need to have connectivity back to NIAID headquarters," Ballard said, and to other places like universities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those IT services include video teleconferencing and database support.

The institute operates three research sites in Mali, two in Uganda and one in India, said Michael Tartakovsky, CIO and director of the Office of Technology Information Systems at NIAID.

"We brought the Perot people on board to help us support the satellite network in those countries about a year ago," he said. "It's a very complicated setup, especially for Africa, because of the lack of reliable Internet communications there. We had to build our own satellite network."

Ballard said setup work is done during onsite visits. When Perot workers are required to stay at an overseas research facility for an extended time, the company creates subcontractor partners with area universities or local companies to create an in-country presence.

"There is a custom application portion to this, too," he said. Perot will design special software that can gather, analyze and refine specific data related solely to the research at the site. "In my layman's terms, it's new ways to torture the data to get better information," Ballard said.

Perot Systems Inc. of Plano, Texas, ranks No. 44 on Washington Technology's 2006 Top 100 list of the largest federal IT contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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