The Department of Agriculture's Allegation Concerning the General Services Administration's Mandatory Requirements Contract for ITEL Disk Drives

LCD-77-115: Published: Jun 20, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1983.

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A dispute among the Department of Agriculture, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the ITEL Data Products Corporation concerned an allegation by the Department that disk drives acquired from ITEL through a GSA mandatory requirements contract were causing degradation of service. The Department replaced IBM disk drives with the ITEL disk drives in response to previous GAO recommendations. After testing revealed problems of degradation, the Department curtailed further installation claiming that a breach of contract existed, and provided ITEL with a study supporting its claim. After the issue was brought to the attention of GSA, the contracting officer concluded that ITEL was not in breach of the contract and that the Department's refusal to replace the disk drives was a breach of contract and in violation of regulations.

GAO contracted with the Federal Computer Performance Evaluation and Simulation center (FEDSIM) to evaluate the Department's study. FEDSIM concluded that: the study involved the use of inappropriate statistical methods and some inadequate performance measures; failures attributed to ITEL disk drives occurred during the ITEL acceptance tests; environmental factors and test procedures may have adversely affected results; and the conclusion that ITEL disk drives' performance was inferior was not supported. Other Government users of the ITEL disk drives reported either that problems they encountered were thought to be related to environmental factors, or that performance was as good or better than that of IBM disk drives. After further discussion, the Department agreed to accept and install ITEL disk drives, and ITEL and the Department agreed to negotiate any payments due ITEL as a result of the dispute.

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