Second protest hits $100M MAP buy

The Social Security Administration was hit this month with a second protest claiming its multimillion-dollar mainframe buy unfairly favors IBM Corp. to the exclusion of other bidders.

CCL Inc., a systems integrator headquartered in Bethesda, Md., filed a pre-bid protest with the General Services Administration's Board of Contract Appeals, charging that SSA's evaluation process favors IBM in its estimated $100 million Mainframe Acquisition Project (MAP) 2000.

SSA plans to evaluate proposals based on an IBM software licensing model called the Indexed Monthly Licensing Charge. Under this model, licenses are more expensive for larger mainframes.

CCL has based its bid on using Amdahl Corp. mainframes, most likely Amdahl's 12-processor units, which have a capacity of 523 million instructions per second (MIPS), said Stephen Josselyn, a consultant at International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.

The software licenses for the 12-processor units will cost more than IBM's 10-processor mainframes, which have 490 MIPS capacity. CCL did not disclose how much more expensive the licenses would be for the Amdahl mainframes, but the company contends in its protest that the amount "is a crippling penalty."

SSA officials could not be reached for comment, and IBM declined to comment.

Lowering software licensing fees is driving the MAP buy. Under the contract, SSA will replace 14 mainframes with five more-powerful ones at its National Computer Center, which supports all of SSA's processing needs. Operating fewer mainframes will drop SSA's software fees by $20 million over four years [FCW, Feb. 5].

IBM, Amdahl and Hitachi are the favorites to win the MAP contract. But several systems integrators, such as CCL, are expected to submit bids using mainframes made by those three firms.

Mainframe Credits Also at Issue

CCL also is protesting SSA's plans to credit bidders' proposals with the market value of 12 IBM mainframes, estimated to be worth as much as $13.7 million.

CCL claims the provision "inherently favors IBM" because IBM can sell the mainframes' parts on the secondary market, or IBM can keep the mainframes off the used market to inflate the value of existing IBM mainframes.

"None of these factors, however, apply to CCL or any other non-IBM offeror," CCL claimed.

CCL has asked SSA to evaluate proposals using another software licensing model that is based on the amount of information the mainframes process. This model generally would treat all proposals the same. CCL also has asked SSA to remove the exchange of IBM mainframes from the proposal.

Amdahl had filed an earlier protest with GSBCA over MAP, claiming that the procurement unfairly favored IBM. That protest was dropped after SSA agreed to amend the MAP solicitation.

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