Benchmarking:

Costly and Difficult, but Often Necessary When Buying Computer Equipment or Services

AFMD-83-5: Published: Oct 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1982.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the costs of benchmarking in automatic data processing procurement to determine whether benchmarking is necessary and cost effective and what alternatives there are to the benchmark process.

GAO found that benchmarking is the most common evaluation technique used in the selection of computer equipment and services by the federal government, because it is the only technique that can reliably compare the performance of different computers, which is also generally acceptable to the vendor community. GAO believes that, for compatible acquisitions, the federal government can adopt the private sector practice of limited use of benchmarking. GAO found that, if agencies can improve benchmarking practices, the cost and time burden on the vendor could be greatly reduced. However, for fully competitive procurements of computer equipment with a projected system life contract value of less than around $2 million, GAO believes that benchmarking should be discouraged because of its high costs.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should develop criteria that will help federal agencies determine: (1) when it is appropriate to benchmark; (2) if benchmarking is needed, what approach is most appropriate; and (3) if benchmarking is not needed, what alternative should be used.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should revise the Federal Procurement Regulations (FPR 1-4.1109-22) so that benchmarking is discouraged for computer equipment procurements with a projected system life contract value of less than $2 million.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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