GSBCA upholds protest of $100 million SSA procurement

The General Services Administration's Board of Contract Appeals has ordered the Social Security Administration to change the way it evaluates software licensing fees on its $100 million mainframe contract.

The order was included in a decision issued last week granting two of four items in a pre-award protest filed by CCL Inc.

As a result, SSA will file this week amendments to the Mainframe Acquisition Project (MAP) 2000, a contract to replace 14 mainframes at SSA's National Computer Center. A deadline for best and final offers probably will be next week, according to an industry source, and an award, originally scheduled for this spring, will be postponed until possibly next month.

SSA planned to use the so-called Indexed Monthly Licensing Charge (IMLC) to evaluate the cost of software licensing.

But CCL, a systems integrator headquartered in Bethesda, Md., argued in a protest filed in April that the fee model made license fees more expensive for larger mainframes. CCL has based its bid on Amdahl Corp.'s 12-processor units, which are larger than IBM Corp.'s 10-processor mainframes on which other vendors would base their bids.

CCL had asked GSBCA to force SSA to use a pricing model that is based on the amount of information that the mainframes process, a model that would generally treat all proposals the same. GSBCA ruled that this latter pricing model would save SSA about $1.5 million a year. CCL officials could not reached for comment.

Karen Zucker, Amdahl's counsel, said Amdahl is in favor of the ruling, "as long as [the pricing model] is implemented as early as possible." That way, Amdahl and other non-IBM vendors could use a lower software licensing fee in their bids, she said.

An SSA official familiar with MAP said the agency still disagrees with the ruling but will abide by it. IBM officials declined to comment on the protest.

In a second item, GSBCA agreed with CCL that SSA did not give vendors ample time to respond to an amendment filed in April. That amendment was in response to an earlier Amdahl protest that was settled outside of GSBCA and that led to SSA incorporating the IMLC pricing model [FCW, April 1].

GSBCA, however, denied CCL's opposition to SSA's plans to credit bidders' proposals with the market value of the center's 12 IBM mainframes, estimated to be worth $13.7 million. CCL officials argued in April that the credit "inherently favors IBM."

GSBCA also denied CCL's fourth complaint, which said SSA favored IBM at the expense of other vendors.

Besides Amdahl and IBM, Hitachi Data Systems is expected to bid on MAP.

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