The Air Force will seek a request for proposals from contractors in March and hopes to make a final contract award by March 2002. The competitions will follow outsourcing rules outlined in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, which require a competition between contractors and federal workers before any jobs are privatized, with the work going to the lowest bidder. Typically, contractors win about half of all A-76 competitions. The initial contract will span five years and would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The likely bidders for the work include nearly all the top Defense companies, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and Northrup Grumman. The Air Force expects to open tens of thousands of commercial competitions over the next several years as part of a Defense-wide effort to save billions of dollars through outsourcing. The service's next-largest A-76 competition, which covered more than 1,000 jobs at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, has been tied up in appeals since it was awarded to a contractor last year.