NARA e-mail service on the fritz

The National Archives and Records Administration is scrambling to keep its e-mail service from breaking down because of faulty network equipment, according to a notice published on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

More than 1,200 NARA employees no longer have regular access to their e-mail, the notice states, and daylong outages have hobbled the Office of General Counsel and other divisions, the notice states. Even the Office of the Archivist has dealt with diminished services.

“This is resulting in lost productivity agencywide and directly impacting the archivist of the United States’ ability to perform critical work functions,” according to the notice.

To fix the problem, NARA needs to replace network equipment manufactured by Hewlett-Packard that connects HP blade servers and the agency’s storage-area network.

NARA officials intended to buy the equipment through a competitive process using the General Services Administration’s multiple-award schedule program. However, one of the parts, an adapter card, is not compliant with the Trade Agreements Act, which requires the government to purchase products manufactured in the United States or another approved country.

NARA officials then requested bids and made a buy on the open market, only to find that the equipment might have been counterfeit, leading them to cancel the contract and return the equipment.

The delay has proven costly, which is why agency officials have decided to award a sole-source deal to HP, worth approximately $121,000.

“NARA’s inability to procure the necessary HP equipment has resulted in an ever-expanding deterioration of e-mail service,” the notice states. “Simply stated, absent the HP replacement parts, the NARA network cannot once again become a fully functioning e-mail system.”

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