The state of Virginia has put its information technology operations up for bid, and three of Fairfax County's largest employers have proposals under consideration for what potentially are multibillion dollar contracts.

Northrop Grumman Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. have submitted detailed proposals for taking over the state's information technology infrastructure, a job worth approximately $240 million a year for an estimated seven to 10 years. Meanwhile, IBM and CGI-AMS are vying for the business applications portion of the state's technology sector, which would include managing operations such as budgeting and payroll for approximately 90 state agencies. That contract also would be worth approximately $240 million a year.

The effort to outsource the state's information technology operations derives from the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002, which was pushed by tech-savvy Gov. Mark R. Warner. The law touts the usual benefits -- cost savings and increased efficiency -- of handing off government-managed tasks and infrastructure to the private sector.

Yet the promise of shiny new computers and uniform software programs has kicked up quite a bit of controversy of late. Though the Virginia Information Technology Agency has made public the competing vendors and an overview of each proposal, the information does not include specific financial data for comparing exactly how the bids differ in price and services offered.

State technology officials said that the process has seen plenty of sunshine so far and further disclosure would hamper the state's ability to get the best deal. "It would be difficult to negotiate if you share what each vendor is proposing," said Lemuel C. Stewart Jr., Virginia's chief information officer. Stewart said if the specific proposals became public the competing companies "would see each other's proposal and we'd lose our leverage."

A decision on the information technology contracts will likely come by the end of October.

How Local Salaries Rank

The average salary of workers in Fairfax County ranks fifth among the 50 U.S. counties with the largest number of businesses, according to recently released figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. According to 2003 data, employers in the county have a cumulative payroll of roughly $26.3 billion a year, which divided by a workforce of 494,915 comes to an average salary of $53,214.

Manhattan (New York County) had the highest average salary among the 50 biggest counties, at $73,032.

3001 Moves In

3001 Inc., a "leading-edge geospatial provider" -- that's strategic mapping and surveying -- "of choice today and for the next millennium," will move its corporate headquarters from Louisiana to Fairfax County. The company's board planned to approve a move to an office complex in Fairfax City early this week.

The change of geography won't boost the county's employment numbers, because 3001's employees already work here at client sites. Joe Gawlick, the company's vice president of business development, explained that the company wanted to establish a base closer to its primary clients: the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is scheduled to consolidate its operations at Fort Belvoir as part of the Pentagon's base realignment effort, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"There is a method to our madness," said Gawlick.

3001 began in 1965 as Vernon F. Meyer and Associates, which provided consulting, engineering and surveying services to the government and private sector.

Movers and Shakers

* William F. Reiske, the former commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Intelligence Command, has joined forces with McLean-based Tenix America as director of strategic programs. Tenix America is the U.S. operations for Australia's largest defense contractor.

* T. Jack Williams takes over as senior vice president of strategic programs for Reston-based Tier Technologies Inc. Williams most recently served as the senior vice president of product management at National Processing Inc., which specializes in electronic financial transactions.

* Approva Corp., whose BizRights software helps keep companies in compliance with the federal Sarbanes-Oxley law, will move farther west in Fairfax County to a new headquarters in Reston to accommodate a workforce that has doubled in the past year, according to the company.

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