OMB reminds agencies to justify brand names in RFPs

Friday - 1/7/2011, 7:27pm EST

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Office of Management and Budget is reminding agencies for a second time in four years not to use brand names in their procurements. And if they do, OMB wants agencies to post their justification on FedBizOpps.gov or the General Services Administration's E-Buy portal.

Vivek Kundra, federal chief information officer, Dan Gordon, administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordinator, issued a memo today reminding agencies of their requirements for publishing justifications.

"This long-standing policy helps ensure that federal investments in IT are merit based, improve the performance of our government and create value for the American people," the memo states. "Accordingly, as program, IT, acquisition, and other officials work together to develop requirements and plan acquisitions, they should follow technology neutral principles and practices. This means selecting suitable IT on a case-by-case basis to meet the particular operational needs of the agency by considering factors such as performance, cost, security, interoperability, ability to share or re-use and availability of quality support."

OMB issued a similar memo in April 2006 for all procurements worth more than $25,000 requiring the justifications to be published in the two procurement portals.

Agencies continue to struggle with this issue. Several years ago, AMD complained about agencies calling out the requirement for Intel processors in contracts. Juniper Networks also has been vocal vendor about agencies calling out Cisco products in request for proposals.

The latest memo encourages agencies as they are developing requirements and planning acquisitions to consider proprietary, open source and mixed source technologies.

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