There are now two bidders left in the race to win the contract for the Ministry of Defence's £4bn IT overhaul, described as one of the world's most difficult infrastructure projects.
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The contract, which is due to be awarded in the first quarter of 2005, will provide IT support to about 300,000 MoD and military staff and integrate more than 200 legacy systems.
Consortia led by EDS and Computer Sciences Corporation met the 5 April deadline for bids on the 10-year Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) project, after groups led by IBM and Lockheed Martin pulled out.
IBM pulled out late last year, and Lockheed Martin withdrew in March, citing fears about the way the contract was structured.
The MoD plans to split the 10-year project into three stages. The partners will be selected on their ability to deliver the complete 10-year requirement, but the MoD will initially commit only to the first stage.
Commitment to the second and third stages will depend on the contractor's performance, value for money delivered and the MoD's needs.
Bob Quick, DII project team leader for the MoD, said the initiative could shave as much as 20% off current IT expenditure by consolidating purchasing arrangements and helpdesk functions.