GSA continues Mobile Armor probe

General Services Administration officials say they are still weighing a response to an encryption vendor whose marketing materials falsely implied the government had found its products to be the best. However, procurement observers are wondering why it’s taking so long for the agency to take action.

The company, Mobile Armor, one of 10 software companies that distribute encryption software through the Data-At-Rest blanket purchase agreement awarded in June 2007, included a document purporting to be an official “competitive matrix” in its marketing package. The matrix’s source line implied that government officials had created it based on vendor-submitted information.

After the false attribution was discovered in early 2008, Mobile Armor pulled the document from its Web site and out of its marketing materials. The company blamed an unnamed consultant for
creating the document without the knowledge or consent of company officials, according to sources close to the case.

GSA officials say the case is complex. Mobile Armor provides its products through a reseller and is not itself on the BPA. In addition, although the BPA is part of GSA’s SmartBuy program, the Air Force manages it.

But consultant Robert Guerra, a partner at Guerra Kiviat, said the complexity is not so overwhelming as to justify a slow response.

“It’s incredible to me that we have a firm like Sun under the gun for what could easily have been an administrative oversight, yet [GSA lets] a clear case of misrepresentation go with no inquiry as to the background, cause and intent,” he said.

GSA officials, in written answers to questions from Federal Computer Week, said they are reminding the reseller in writing that it is not allowed to imply that GSA has endorsed or prefers any vendor’s products over others’. However, GSA officials added, it was not the reseller that circulated the document.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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