Medicare agency to launch major contracting initiative for virtual data center

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a pre-solicitation notice early this month for a series of contracts to support the agency's virtual data center project.

The posting on FedBizOpps includes several draft requests for proposals aimed at both large and small vendors, including one for hosting the data center itself and managing "all activities (end to end) necessary to provide efficient, effective and responsive application hosting services and data center infrastructure services."

Other draft RFPs include fee-for-service claims processing and "seat management," a general term that typically refers to a master contract for help desk support, training, maintenance and other services.

The virtual data center hosting RFP is for one year with nine optional yearlong extensions for a total duration of 10 years. Other draft RFPs are for different time periods.

CMS plans to host a webinar for vendors interested in bidding for elements of the indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract Aug. 26, according to the FedBizOpps posting. A CMS spokesman declined to provide further information about the RFPs in advance of the webinar.

Virtualized data centers are essentially data centers that are able to do complex operations with relatively simple hardware, cutting down significantly on operational costs and energy consumption.

CMS' virtual data center initiative is part of a governmentwide push to transition to more efficient information technology hosting, which includes consolidating traditional data centers and moving more government operations into public and private computer clouds.

Administration officials estimate consolidating federal data centers will save the government $3 billion over five years and that the transition to cloud computing eventually will save the government $5 billion annually.

Industry surveys have shown lower-level IT managers are more skeptical of those projected savings.