GAO's Assessment of Affidavits Concerning HHS' Proposed Debarment of the Paradyne Corporation

IMTEC-85-12: Published: Jun 17, 1985. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed affidavits and related materials concerning the Social Security Administration's (SSA) data communications contracts with a certain contractor, focusing on whether: (1) the affidavits refuted the basis of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation that the contractor be debarred; and (2) whether the contractor's actions in securing the contracts were consistent with customary practices in the computer industry. The affidavits were submitted by the contractor in response to the HHS debarment recommendation and were taken from a retired government procurement official and a computer industry official.

The debarment case against the contractor arose because: (1) the contractor demonstrated a system that differed from the system it proposed and delivered to SSA; and (2) the contractor delivered a prototype system, whereas the solicitation required a commercially available system. GAO found that: (1) the retired government official's affidavit based certain assumptions about industry standards on descriptive literature that was not relevant to the contractor's situation; (2) the retired government official's affidavit supported the contention that the contractor did not supply a fully operational, commercially available system; (3) the industry official's affidavit did not deal with substantive dissimilarities between the equipment offered and that supplied; (4) the affidavits did not show that the contractor failed to inform SSA of differences between the equipment it demonstrated and the equipment it supplied; (5) the affidavits did not refute the basis for the HHS debarment recommendation because that recommendation was based on the fact that acceptance of the contractor's proposal was based on its misleading assertions and conduct; and (6) the affidavits did not support a conclusion that the contractor acted in accordance with normal computer industry practices.

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