SAIC (NYSE: SAI) is helping to keep America safe from chemical and biological weapons. The only question is how much help it will be allowed to give.

On Monday, SAIC announced that it has won one of "multiple" awards to provide program, engineering, medical, and technical support services to the government's Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. This multiple-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has an initial three-year base period of performance. If necessary, it may be extended by as many as two one-year "options" periods, and a final six-month option as well -- five and a half years total, if all options are exercised. In that event, says SAIC, the total value of the contract could reach $495 million.

Not all of this money may go to SAIC, however. Indeed, given that SAIC says 42 contractors have won awards similar to the one SAIC announced Monday, it seems likely that quite a lot of the contract's funding will go to entities other than SAIC.

Still, the first step to getting any revenues from this contract at all was winning a place in the field of companies that can bid on task orders issued under the umbrella contract. At the very least, SAIC now has its foot in the door.