DoT Consolidation Forces VARs To Step Up the Competition

Input, the Chantilly, Va.-based research firm that sponsored the breakfast, expects the DoT to spend more than $3.5 billion on IT during the next five years -- $7 million more than in 2004 -- with 90 percent going to contractors. A large chunk of that spending will be on the department's internal network.

"The DoT first began to address issues of consolidation in 2003, when only half of the department's Office of the Secretary was using a common infrastructure," Matthews said.

With that number now at 100 percent, the next step involves developing department-wide management solutions, establishing a unified Web presence, and provisioning file and print services -- all amid a physical move from the DoT's downtown Washington, D.C., location to a building in the Southwest Waterfront area.

Such plans will bring new opportunities for VARs that can, for example, provide services associated with the newly implemented storage-area network, assist with a three-phase records-management solution, or enable firewall protection for a farm of virtual servers at the new location. But just as consolidation strategies cause new opportunities to emerge, it may also cause the actual number available to shrink.

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"Right now, there are 12 agencies within the department, each of which has its own contracts," Matthews said. "At the same time, we're developing this core of IT services. Those two need to come together so we can find the gaps and figure out what must be provided [to fill them]."

Matthews encouraged potential contractors to find out what agencies are doing in lines of business, then help develop new applications and sunset the old.

"IT is driven by concept, not product," he said. In that sense, contracts will be awarded based on an understanding of the department's structure and goals moving forward.

"Often, people do things in a stovepipe environment that doesn't do any good for the department or good for the citizens," Matthews said.