Federal Bytes

At the sound of the beep...

The Social Security Administration, typically run by a snappy, professional staff, seems to have forgotten its manners in the afterglow of awarding the agency's long-awaited Intelligent Workstation/Local Area Network contract.

Unisys Corp. won the contract, which will place a workstation on each employee's desk, and signed the deal late on June 14. Sometime thereafter, SSA officials chose a "Dear John" approach to notify the six losing bidders that had spent two years and millions of dollars pursuing the contract. SSA did not make a personal phone call but rather left an anonymous, short voice-mail message telling each bidder who won.

SSA's reported reasoning for the impersonal touch was that the agency did not want to leave the losing bidders biting their fingernails over the weekend.

Nevertheless, bidders were taken aback by what seemed to many as an impersonal and timid manner of handling the climactic conclusion of one of SSA's highest-profile contracts.

Oh well. We suppose it's better than hearing it from us.

Competition for Barney?

General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals Judge Robert Parker makes no bones about the diminished role his organization will play in the information technology arena after Aug. 8. That's when new procurement regulation go into effect making the General Accounting Office the sole venue for administrative protests.

At a conference sponsored by IDC Government last week, Parker introduced himself to the audience this way: "While I may look like a normal person sitting here, I'm actually a dinosaur."

No word yet on whether the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History has put in a bid for Judge Parker's robe.

Return of the prodigal agency

There appears to be a love/hate relationship between GSBCA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

GSBCA's Judge Parker recalled how FAA officials last year loudly proclaimed that GSA's procurement regulations prohibited them from conducting efficient acquisitions.

You'd think those FAA officials would be thrilled now that those rules have been rescinded. But it turns out the agency is somewhat like the proverbial youngster who runs away from home only to return at dinnertime.

According to Parker, the agency recently received its first protest and subsequently called GSBCA to ask it to handle the case - despite the fact that protests against the FAA no longer fall under GSBCA's jurisdiction.

Ever the good sport, Parker agreed to help anyway he could.

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