NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has announced that it has selected OAO Corporation for negotiations for JPL's institutional computing management contract. With extensions, the Desktop and Network Services (DNS) contract encompasses up to 10 years and more than $200 million in services, making this JPL's largest outsourcing contract to date and the first time such JPL functions have been fulfilled by a contractor. Negotiations are ongoing, with signature slated for October 31 and implementation for mid-December.

As JPL's outsourcing partner on the five-year computer services contract, which includes options for up to five additional years, OAO will initially manage hardware and software for 7,000 of JPL's desktop computer stations, currently inventoried at 12,000-plus. The fixed-price, performance-based contract covers help desk services, systems administration, software acquisitions and upgrades, computer hardware maintenance, and hardware replenishment.

JPL Deputy Director Larry Dumas says, "We're very pleased to have been able to select OAO for negotiations. We think highly of their capabilities and are looking forward to working with them." He adds, "This type of contract reflects a new emphasis at JPL in partnering with industry to carry out our mission, focusing our workforce on one-of-a-kind tasks that are appropriate to a national lab."

For this contract, OAO has formed the DNS Alliance, comprising subcontractors Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett- Packard Company (HP), and User Technology Associates, all of whom will bring their resources to bear to help fulfill various aspects of the contract. OAO Corporation, formed in 1973, is a global provider of information technology solutions that has tendered services to JPL on Mars Pathfinder, Galileo, and the upcoming Cassini, among other missions; Digital and HP are world- class leaders in the information technology industry; and UTA is a small business with an outstanding record of service at JPL.

Upwards of 130 personnel, 50 of whom are JPL employees and the remainder employed by companies having various computer- related contracts with JPL, will be affected, including systems administrators, hardware maintenance technicians, network engineers, and computer programmers. They will be given the option of becoming OAO employees with salary packages parallel to or surpassing their current JPL salaries and guaranteed OAO employment for a minimum of one year. In addition, JPL employees will be allowed to transfer their JPL seniority to OAO; a three- year JPL employee, for example, will begin at OAO with three years of seniority and will be eligible for any benefits that other OAO employees with three years of service receive.

Upon start-up of the contract, ownership of hardware will continue under JPL jurisdiction, but, through a progressive replenishment plan upgrading covered stations with OAO computers approximately every 36 months, the Maryland firm is scheduled to own all covered hardware by the end of 2000.

Dumas explains, "This is an excellent example of partnering with industry. We're doing what we do best, OAO is doing what it does best, and, together, we make a strong team. It's ultimately in everybody's best interests to go forward."

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.

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