GSBCA grants Sun protest

The Army Workstation-1 procurement was derailed further last week when the General Services Administration's Board of Contract Appeals granted in part a protest by losing bidder Sun Microsystems Inc.

Army Workstation-1 is a $590 million program for Unix optional Windows NT workstations and associated software and peripherals created by the Army's Small Computer Program office in Fort Monmouth N.J.GSBCA ruling on one of its last major protests agreed in part with Sun's allegations that the Army's Information Systems Selection and Acquisition Agency (ISSAA) did not stick to its own evaluation criteria in awarding contracts to Digital Equipment Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

The content of the ruling is under protective order until Aug. 15 and neither the Army nor the vendors involved were willing to discuss the case. ISSAA is expected to meet this week to decide how the Army might choose to proceed.

Sun's protest filed in early June covered a range of issues including products bid that did not meet contract specifications or that were no longer commercially available. However much of the protest focused on how ISSAA evaluated the optional Alternate Operating Systems (AOS) the Army allowed.

According to Sun ISSAA by deviating from its stated evaluation criteria failed to weigh fairly the value of these options with Sun's proposal which did not include an AOS.

Digital bid a Windows NT-based workstation as an alternate to its Unix solution while HP bid a Compartmented Mode Workstation.

Workstation-1 like other Small Computer Program acquisitions was designed to be a fast-order commercial off-the-shelf-oriented procurement with a follow-on contract in the queue.

However even if the Army chooses to proceed with Workstation-1 in some fashion it will be difficult to get a vehicle in place to take advantage of end-of-the-year spending said Jan Morgan an analyst with IDC Government Market Services Falls Church Va.

Still Army customers are not left without alternative vehicles Morgan said. NASA recently decided to open up the Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement to outside agencies. SEWP in fact was the Army's top source of workstations prior to Workstation-1 it was the closing of SEWP that spurred the Army to create its own program agency officials said earlier this year.

Additionally the Army will have access to the Air Force Workstations program which was awarded to Hughes Aircraft Co. (which bid Digital computers) and Sun.

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