Deep underground, in western Pennsylvania, over 600 federal employee toil away each day. This site, run by the Office of Personnel Management, processes the retirement paperwork for federal employees. By hand. Just as their fathers did. And their grandfathers.

How does this relate to an RFP titled Enhanced Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise (E-SITE) that was announced March 18? The underground limestone mine in Pennsylvania represents my best expectation for the results of the RFP. The site Fierce Government IT reports in a March 24 story that the contracts from this RFP could amount to nearly $6 billion in federal agency expenditures over the next five years.

This RFP provides contractors with a good deal of opportunity to sell hardware and software, to provide installation and system maintenance services and to provide integration services with legacy systems. There is a lot of money available. With DIA as the lead agency, the need for contractors with security clearances will be integral to winning any of the bids.

The RFP description includes this sweeping goal:

The E-SITE contract will provide worldwide coverage for IT requirements and technical support services supporting the Government through system design, development, fielding, and sustainment of global intelligence and command and control (C2) assets vital to the security of the United States.

That is indeed a laudable goal. But it comes on the heels of the utter failure to implement the Affordable Care website by Oct. 1, 2013. It comes on the heels of the failure by the Census Bureau to integrate hand-held computing into the enumeration process with a nearly $3 billion cost. The Veterans Administration is also a heel in the continuing federal data processing debacle, having rolled out the Veterans Benefits Management System, a web-based paperless claims processing system that suffers repeated systems failures, mixes data between veterans files and other data review and downloading issues.

Employment opportunities for people with IT skills and a security clearance are there. The money is there. Time will tell if the goal of the RFP will be reached.

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Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a freelance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.