oneMeridian clinches S'pore SOE project

update The consortium led by EDS International edges out three others to win the US$929-million tender for Singapore's Standard ICT Operating Environment project.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--The oneMeridian consortium, led by EDS International, has landed the country's Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOE) public sector tender worth some S$1.3 billion (US$929 million).

Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced Thursday that oneMeridian edged out three other consortia: iN'spire led by Hewlett-Packard, NexGenea led by NEC Solutions, and One Team led by NCS. The IDA, apart from being an industry regulator, also oversees technology purchases and deployments for major government bodies.

Other key members in the oneMeridian consortium include Alcatel-Lucent, Avanade, Cisco Systems, Frontline Technologies (recently acquired by BT), Microsoft, Singapore Computer Systems and SingTel. The winning consortium has since renamed the project, SOEasy.

Lim Hup Seng, deputy secretary of Singapore's Ministry of Finance (MOF), said at a media briefing Thursday that oneMeridian was chosen "on the basis that it gave us best value for money".

The project, spread over eight years, seeks to standardize desktop and network components across 74 government agencies in the public sector, excluding the Ministry of Defence which has developed its own system, and schools under the Ministry of Education which will be building a separate system.

According to the IDA, an initial 17 batch of agencies including the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Communications and the Arts, will benefit from SOEasy by Jul. 1, 2009. The full implementation, which covers at least 60,000 public officers, is expected to be complete by IDA's 2010 fiscal year-end, or Mar. 31, 2011.

Pauline Tan, IDA's senior director in the Government Chief Information Office and SOE lead, noted that SOEasy is expected to reap S$500 million (US$357.5 million) in savings over the eight years, and replaces some 200 contracts that government agencies otherwise would independently commit.

First announced in April 2005, the project was to be awarded early last year but this was delayed to October and subsequently to this month.

Stephen Yeo, vice president for Southeast Asia at EDS, said oneMeridian is in the process of bringing in its global experts, and recruitment for new personnel is also starting to take place. As many as 850 personnel will be deployed for SOEasy.

"We're fielding a very experienced delivery team [and] incorporating and adapting existing global blueprints and best practices for SOE," said Yeo.

Yeo told ZDNet Asia that the consortium will be working with many small and midsize businesses such as cabling players. About half of the contract value could trickle down to these SMBs, he noted.

The MOF's Lim pointed that opportunities still remain for the other consortia, as the SOEasy project represents only about a quarter of the total available seats. A second phase for schools, said to involve some 100,000 seats, is in the pre-qualification tender stage, according to Lim, who estimated the project would take off in about two years' time.

In a statement e-mailed to ZDNet Asia Friday, Tan Yen Yen, vice president and managing director of HP Singapore, said the company "will continue to explore other opportunities to collaborate with the Singapore government". Seah Moon Ming, president of ST Electronics, HP's main partner in the iN'spire, also expressed interest in the second phase of the SOE project.

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