Letters to the Editor

Industry needs to stop whining over ICEMAN

I have been following the issues associated with the award of the ICEMAN contract to the USDA and I have never heard such whining before. It certainly seems unseemly coming as it does from the captains of industry.

What is this unfair competition nonsense that they are charging? True industry has some costs that the feds do not. After all the feds don't have shareholders who get angry when the company doesn't declare a dividend and they don't have company cars or company credit cards.

On the other hand government has costs that industry does not. Government employees usually have more paid holidays than their cousins in the private sector. A government worker can get up to 208 hours of annual leave every year and he can carry over sick leave rather than lose it as is common in industry. I would guess that the so-called advantage ascribed to the government is a draw.

Still however they managed it the USDA was 15 percent better than the next low bidder. It sounds like they turned their competitive advantage over to the taxpayers.

The May 6 issue of FCW reports IT spending in DOD for fiscal 1998 estimated by OMB to be at the $11.6 billion level. Judging from the contract awards made during the last several months (but who's counting) and reported by FCW I think the private sector could easily afford to throw the dogs a bone - after all they hardly left any crumbs.

R. WiederVia e-mail

Revisiting GAO protest

We have followed with great interest FCW's coverage of the protest by our company Intelligent Decisions Inc. (Protest No. B-274626 B-274626.2) of the award of a contract for personal computer systems to Win Laboratories Ltd. by the Justice Department. It is our policy not to comment on matters in litigation however the General Accounting Office has denied our request for reconsideration in this specific matter and in light of the comments made by your employees and others we are compelled to clarify our position regarding this protest.

In your June 2 article "Ruling squelches IDI's protest " your publication implied that ID was somehow challenging the procedures for ordering products through the GSA schedules program. Mr. Peckinpaugh in his comments referred to a "questioning of the legitimacy of the schedules program." For the record we must state most emphatically that ID has in the past fully supported and will continue to fully support the GSA schedules program. In fact we believe it to be one of the most efficient and easy-to-use contracting vehicles in the government procurement arena. Furthermore ID has invested substantial funds to develop and market a viable GSA schedule contract. We have found the personnel at GSA to be accessible and responsive at all levels. We applaud GSA for its willingness to assist the user community and the vendor community in attaining the goal of more efficient contracting. The purpose of ID's protest was never to question any aspect of the GSA schedules program but rather to address actions taken by employees at DOJ that we believe resulted in an unfair advantage to our competition. In its denial of ID's request for consideration GAO noted that there were "several procedural deficiencies during the conduct of the procurement."

Rather than embark on an exhaustive discussion of the various aspects of the protest ID would like to point out that of those individuals quoted in your articles not one of them has ever spoken with any official of ID or its counsel and we are puzzled that such individuals consider themselves competent to comment on ID's motives without the benefit of the insight a conversation with us would have provided.

This decision by GAO quite frankly has nothing to do with GSA and we believe the rules on schedule contracting are clear. For GAO to assert that this was a Federal Supply Schedule buy given the numerous irregularities as outlined in our protest was in our opinion an incorrect conclusion. It was never GSA's intent to allow certain vendors preferential treatment over other vendors in the procurement process. Similarly ID never questioned the legitimacy of a program in which we participate and fully support.

We insist however on a level playing field. In government procurement if one believes that an action has occurred that makes the playing field less than level one has the right to protest. ID exercised that right. While we acknowledge the decision of GAO in this matter we remain convinced that the irregularities in this procurement warranted investigation and in the final analysis it was the taxpayers who lost not ID.

Lawrence M. HammVice PresidentMarketing & ContractsIntelligent Decisions Inc.

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