GSA seeks vendor for HSPD-12 interoperability lab

The General Services Administration is looking for a vendor to create requirements for products and services that meet Federal Information Processing Standard 201 and design and implement a lab to test these products and services.

In a request for quote released through the Federal Supply Service Schedule 70 earlier this week, GSA detailed the statement of work that lays out a time frame of no more than 60 days for the contractor to perform such functions as designing and building test apparatus for FIPS-201 product-and-service category lists, and creating test lab specifications.

The testing lab will be the second step for vendors to get products and services on an approved purchase list for agencies. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is conducting conformance testing in their own labs.

Some in industry, however, question whether there is anyone in industry that is willing to take on this latest RFQ'the second vendor request for quotes this week. One vendor, who requested anonymity, said the conflict-of-interest provision would make it hard for most contractors who understand these products and services to submit a proposal.

In the RFQ, GSA said the contractor, including all divisions and subsidiaries, that sets up the test lab cannot supply information received from this contract to any firm participating in or having interest in this subject matter, or enter into a contractual relationship which would affect or appear to affect the equity of its recommendations. This prohibition would extend for three years after the end of the contract.

GSA also said the contractor cannot provide to the government as a prime or subcontractor any component of any system that it is not currently obligated to deliver for defense purposes.

'This seems a little harsh,' said Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and general counsel for the Professional Services Council, an industry association in Arlington, Va. 'GSA is not necessarily wrong in what they are doing, but it would seem to me that they would give offerers the opportunity to propose a mitigation strategy for the government to evaluate. I've only seen this kind of exclusion that has been quite that firm once before, and that was in the missile defense area.'

Chvotkin added that GSA is right to make sure the testing is unbiased, but he wasn't sure if it is necessary to ban the company from taking part in future work.

Proposals are due Dec. 20.

In other FIPS-201 news, GSA issued a high-level approval process guidance for products and services.

The guidance applies to all vendors that submit or intend to submit a proposal to sell products and/or services on the FIPS-201 blanket purchase agreement under Schedule 70. GSA plans to release the BPA in May 2006.

The guidance details a four-step process by which vendors should try to get on the list. These steps include:
  • Determining product and/or service category

  • Submitting application for the FSS award, if applicable

  • Submitting evaluation package to the GSA interoperability lab

  • Submitting FIPS-201 BPA documentation to the GSA Authentication Services Program Office.

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