Single Source Procurement: Electron Microscopy Program

Pursuant to New York State Finance Law § 163.10(b), The New York State Department of Health is presenting the following summary of relevant circumstances, and material and substantial reasons why a competitive procurement was not feasible.

The Department of Health, Wadsworth Center is requested and received a Contract Reporter Exemption Request approval for a five year comprehensive service agreement contract with FEI Company for them to continue to provide emergency repair, routine maintenance, and service upgrades for the Tecnai F20 transmission electron microscope.

The FEI Tecnai F20 is a sophisticated, high-end electron microscope required for state of the art bio-molecular imaging. There are mechanical and electronic components that require annual maintenance and are subject to wear and failure. In the absence of a service agreement, even a minor component failure will render the instrument unusable.

Modern electron microscopes run on proprietary software, unique to each manufacturer. The computer software is proprietary to FEI, nearly all of the mechanical parts are custom configured by FEI, and service engineers require years of training before they progress into the field. We cannot maintain this instrument with in-house staff. Hardware components are also custom configured for each microscope and are for the large part only available from the manufacture.

Wadsworth has over 45 years of experience operating and maintaining electron microscopes, and has extensive contacts within the microscopy community. Although third party vendors can service some of the older instruments that are less reliant on computer integration, we know of no other party or service that can take care of the most current instrumentation. Because of the complexity and integration of the operating system with the electronics and vacuum components, each manufacturer uniquely supplies this kind of support for their own instruments.

The FEI Tecnai F20 contains mechanical pumps that generate a high vacuum in the beam column, a delicate field emission gun that produces the electron beam, a digital camera system necessary to record images, electro-magnetic lenses that focus the beam through tiny apertures, and a versatile stage platform that is usually cooled to liquid nitrogen temperature for cryo operation. All of these hardware components require routine maintenance for continued operation and at some point they will all inevitably wear out, fail, and require replacement. The entire instrument operation is controlled by computer software that further requires regular updates.

Since its installation in 1999, the Tecnai F20 has been efficiently covered by a service plan from FEI. The instrument has been expertly maintained and updated such that it still reflects state of the art for this type of TEM. Over the past 3 calendar years (2012-2014), the F20 has recorded 5164 hours of use, an average of 33 hours use per week, and directly supported $3.7 million in federally funded research during this period. It is used for collection of single particle data, as the primary imaging microscope for novel cryo samples, for performing plastic section tomography, and screening cryo sample conditions. The data obtained have played critical roles in federally funded research projects, leading to successful renewals, development of new grants and programs, and importantly, has advanced our knowledge of bio-medically relevant problems.

This instrument is crucial in supporting over $1 million/year in federally-funded investigative studies that address the development of new antibiotics and novel chemotherapeutic agents, the treatment of heart and muscle disorders, identification and characterization of biological pathogens, as well as the underlying structural basis of diseases associated with kidney dysfunction, developmental and reproductive defects, and neurodegeneration.

Procurement / Program Name New Born Screening – Immunoassay
Contractor Name(s) Perkin Elmer
Contract Period One Time Delivery
Contract Number(s) WC2120