Contractors are readying for a new National Institutes of Health effort to buy computer hardware and commercially available software.

The program would replace an existing contract vehicle called Electronic Commodities Store 3, or ECS3, which was first awarded in 2002, said Alexander Serbau, a senior research analyst for health and human services at Deltek, which studies the government contracting market.

At the time, 66 contractors received a place on the contract vehicle, which is worth up to $6 billion, said Serbau. About $1.7 billion has been spent using it, according to the NIH.

ECS3 is broken into six categories of work, from providing commercial desktops and laptops to software to telephone equipment. The program is focused on products, but includes some basic services such as maintenance, Serbau said.

The NIH’s technology assessment and acquisition center is collecting contractor feedback about the replacement program, called Chief Information Officer New, or CIO-New, through a market survey originally released in February. The survey is meant to collect industry perspective on the contract vehicle’s scope and evaluation criteria.

A solicitation for CIO-New likely won’t be released until mid-summer, he added.

Still, Deltek users are already anticipating the program; nearly 500 have indicated the effort is of interest.

At the same time, the NIH’s acquisition arm is preparing to award contracts for the hotly-anticipated Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 3 contract, better known as CIO-SP3. That program, Serbau said, will likely be used to buy more technical services, such as developing software.