No brand names'unless it's Google?

From the GCN Tech Blog

TAKE YOUR PICK GSA wanted quotes for a Google Search Appliance when it also could have bought a Thunderstone appliance, above, off Schedule 70.

GSA also could have bought a Thunderstone appliance, off Schedule 70.

The Office of Management and Budget doesn't want agencies specifying technology brands in their requests for proposals.

And earlier this year, chip-maker Advanced Micro Devices, tired of reading solicitations that asked for Intel processors, sponsored a study to try and demonstrate how much money the government wastes by requesting a certain type of CPU in its requests for proposals [read it at GCN.com, GCN.com/662]. (In 2005, when the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued its first memo on the subject, GCN found more than 109,000 instances of agencies looking for Intel Pentium processors on FedBizOpps.gov.)

Therefore, some at GCN were bemused to see a solicitation posted last month on FedBizOpps. The Navy Warfare Development Command was looking for an enterprise search appliance capable of handling 500,000 documents, with two years of support, plus updates. But the General Services Administration, on behalf of the command, didn't want just any search appliance, such as the Thunderstone Search Appliance, which it could buy off GSA's Schedule 70.

According to the request for quote, it was looking for 'Quantity (1): Google Search Appliance GB-1001.'

The best deal

No big deal? After all, OMB was thinking of $25,000-plus procurements when it issued its no-brand-names guidance. But according to Google itself, an appliance that searches 500,000 documents starts at $30,000.

GCN e-mailed the GSA contracting officer for clarification. The official rightly pointed out that the Federal Acquisition Regulation allows for specifying brand names under certain circumstances, but he was open to feedback.

The contracting officer said the program office had done market research and acquisition planning. The Google Search Appliance was on GSA Schedule 70 but was only available from one vendor.

In the interest of more competition, the contracting officer issued a solicitation
to see if anyone else could get the Navy
a better deal on the Google appliance.

That assumed the Google appliance was the only option out there. When the officer understood that wasn't the case, he circled back to the program manager.

Ultimately, GSA cancelled the Google solicitation to give the program manager 'additional time to consider other commercially available products.'

For more IT trends and analysis, visit the GCN.com Tech Blog at www.gcn.com/blogs/tech.

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