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National Archives Wants Sole Source HP Contract

The agency says its e-mail system is tanking and it must purchase parts directly from Hewlett-Packard because the competitive bidding process has failed.

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The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is seeking to replace networking equipment that's threatening to tank its e-mail system.

The agency needs to purchase two Hewlett-Packard networking products to replace technology already in use to help restore full e-mail service to more than 1,400 users who haven't had consistent access to their e-mail, according to a special notice on the FedBizOpps website.

"Simply stated, absent the HP replacement parts the NARA network cannot once again become a fully functioning e-mail system," the agency said in a letter justifying the purchase that was posted with the RFP.

The situation has deteriorated to the point that the Office of General Counsel has lost access to e-mail for an entire day, according to the letter.

Senior NARA managers, including the Office of the Archivist, also have experienced "diminished" access to e-mail because of the faulty equipment.

NARA said it has tried to purchase the products it needs on a competitive basis, using the appropriate General Services Administration schedule. However, products procured during that process were found to be counterfeit or "at the very least" grey market, meaning HP would not support them.

During this process NARA said it lost precious time in the restoration of its e-mail service, which is why it now seeks only to purchase the products from the vendor itself for an approximate award of $121,000, the agency said.

"NARA must leave the open market because of the mission-essential nature of reliable e-mail service," according to the letter. "To remedy what has become an intolerable impact on employees' productivity, no further effort to obtain competition will be contemplated."

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