GAO confirms DISA's right to choose procurement path

A General Accounting Office protest decision, recently made public, upholds the Defense Information Systems Agency's right to choose a multiple acquisition strategy for the Defense Information Systems Network.

GAO last month denied a protest against DISN that was filed by AT&T late last year. In its protest, AT&T challenged the multiple-procurement strategy developed by DISA. AT&T wanted DISA to amend its acquisition approach to permit a company to submit a single bid for the DISN procurements.

AT&T asserted that an integrated bid would save $1.5 billion over DISA's approach.

GAO, however, ruled that "the agency's judgment as to the best approach to accommodating its needs...is within the decision-making function of the agency and is not subject to the type of objection raised by AT&T."

As to whether a single-bid approach would result in cost savings or a superior technology solution, GAO said, "These contentions simply are not for resolution in this forum."

Jim Lewin, vice president for government affairs at Sprint, said GAO's decision "debunks AT&T's claims of massive savings by going their way."

Lewin added that the vendors pursuing the DISN procurements have spent a lot of money on their bids. "We want to get on with it."

The DISN Support Services-Global procurement is expected to be awarded shortly.

AT&T Stands by Protest

An AT&T spokeswoman said, "GAO did not rule on the merits of the case. They ruled on the legality of DISA's actions. We continue to stand by our position" that an integrated approach is the most cost-effective solution.

The GAO decision, however, noted that DISA had examined different acquisition approaches.

"The record shows that DISA considered the possible benefits and burdens to the agency of numerous acquisition approaches, some of which resemble AT&T's proposed approach," the GAO decision said.

GAO cited an April 1995 example in which DISA considered an approach "calling for a single contractor to act as an integrator."

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