Protest Involving Teleprocessing Services

B-192987: Aug 28, 1979

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Tymshare, Inc. protested further consideration and evaluation of Control Data Corporation (CDC) by the United States Coast Guard in the selection of a vendor for teleprocessing services under the General Services Administration (GSA) Teleprocessing Services Program (TSP). TSP is the mandatory means by which Federal agencies acquire teleprocessing services from the private sector. Tymshare based its protest on the Coast Guard's decision to permit CDC to perform a second benchmark after the deadline for such tests had expired. Tymshare and other companies entered into Multiple Award Schedule Contracts (MASC) under TSP. Vendors found to meet certain technical requirements after evaluation of their current TSP-MASC were required to process a benchmark program as part of the selection and evaluation procedures. The cost evaluation formula provided that each vendor's computer input-output resource cost should be determined by computing the number of system resource units (SRU) which the vendor required for particular functions. Thus, the cost evaluation formula consisted of the evaluated cost of performing the various functions based on the number of SRU's consumed by each function during the vendor's benchmark performance. Even if only one SRU is eliminated in performing a task which is a heavily weighted cost evaluation factor, a vendor can reduce significantly its cost evaluation. The protester argued that CDC was given a substantial competitive advantage over all other vendors since it was the only vendor permitted to conduct a benchmark after the deadline for retesting had passed. A vendor can reduce its evaluated costs if given extra time to prepare for the benchmark; Tymshare argued that an initial benchmark failure was rewarded by a competitive advantage in having a second benchmark opportunity, while the remaining vendors are locked in. CDC attributed the untimely second benchmark to Coast Guard administrative delays. GAO agreed, and the protest was denied. It was noted, however, that the notice and the benchmark procedures employed by the Coast Guard should be improved.