B-226935, Sep 3, 1987

B-226935: Sep 3, 1987

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Wherein competition is restricted to only operating system software which can be run on IBM hardware. Army's 3-Tier Computer Architecture Standards Policy: You have asked whether the Army's 3-tier computer architecture standards policy complies with the Brooks Act (40 U.S.C. The Army's policy is for operating system software that can only be run on International Business Machines (IBM) or IBM lookalikes. Other computer hardware and software firms have complained that the policy prevents them from competing for the Army's requirements even though they allege they can fulfill the Army's needs. The question presented is whether the Army has complied with the requirements of the Federal Information Resources Management Regulation (FIRMR).

B-226935, Sep 3, 1987

PROCUREMENT - Special Procurement Methods/Categories - Computer equipment/services - Competitive restrictions - Federal procurement regulations/laws - Compliance DIGEST: Army's proposed 3-tier computer architecture standards policy, wherein competition is restricted to only operating system software which can be run on IBM hardware, does not comply with the Federal Information Resources Management Regulation based on the evidence before us, which requires a special justification for a compatibility limited requirement, which justification has not been advanced by the Army.

Army's 3-Tier Computer Architecture Standards Policy:

You have asked whether the Army's 3-tier computer architecture standards policy complies with the Brooks Act (40 U.S.C. Sec. 759 (1982)), the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA), and implementing General Services Administration Regulations. The Army's policy is for operating system software that can only be run on International Business Machines (IBM) or IBM lookalikes. Other computer hardware and software firms have complained that the policy prevents them from competing for the Army's requirements even though they allege they can fulfill the Army's needs.

The question presented is whether the Army has complied with the requirements of the Federal Information Resources Management Regulation (FIRMR), 41 C.F.R. Part 201 (1986), which implements the above cited laws regarding compatibility limited requirements.

Based on the record before us, we see no evidence that the Army has fulfilled these requirements.

FIRMR, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 201-30.009-3 requires that when a compatibility limited requirement is expressed in a type of specification other than one that will result in full and open competition, a special justification is required. This section contains very specific and definite steps to be taken in reaching such a justification. Lack of advance planning cannot be used for such justification. FIRMR, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 201-11.002(a). Also, such a justification may not be based solely on reasons of economy or efficiency. FIRMR, 41 C.F.R. Sec. 201 24.207.

Your staff has advised that repeated requests to the Army for such justification have been made, but that no specific justification has been given. Moreover, on April 22, 1987, the Deputy Secretary of Defense called for the withdrawal of these competition limiting standards based on industry and Congressional criticism and the Army's failure to document the mission needs that require such a limitation of competition.

Since we have no evidence that the Army has justified its restriction, we agree with the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the position taken by General Service Administration in its June 29 and August 13, 1987, correspondence.