Bid it or ignore it
Is too much competition a bad thing? Some systems vendors apparently think so.
The baldest example was a letter from the Coalition for Federal Procurement to Rep.
Steve Horn (R-Calif.) asking that Congress kill a Transportation Department commodity
systems and services contract [GCN, June 15, Page 69].
In the letter, the Washington coalitions president and executive director
appealed to Horn, chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on
Government Management, Information and Technology, to halt the planned Information
Technology Omnibus Procurement II acquisition.
The buy is a follow-on to ITOP. Transportation officials want to award new contracts
before the year is out.
The letter was remarkable for three reasons. First, its not clear that Horn can
order an agency to stop a procurement, just like that. Second, its not clear he
Third, some vendors listed on the coalitions stationery as advisers said they
dont agree with the letters conclusions and were shocked to have their names
on a letter they believe has the potential to poison their business relationships with
Transportation. A few of the vendors said they plan to bid on ITOP II.
These shenanigans ought to make vendors uneasy. True, theres nothing new about
companies lobbying for particular programs or for procurement reforms. But end-running
agencies with quasi-open letters to Congress is rare.
Vendors certainly have the right to question the proliferation of buying vehicles. Ever
more often, vendors are spending money to develop proposals for multiple-award contracts
that merely give them a license to sell. Theres no guarantee of business, they
Fair enough. But instead of running to Capitol Hillwhere lawmakers like to whack
mosquitoes with sledgehammersvendors that dislike a procurement ought to pursue more
They need to take an approach that fulfills everyones desire for fairness,
competition and a businesslike approach to government buying.
What is this avenue? Dont bid.
Thomas R. Temin