Senator: Feds should threaten to cancel Sun's IT contract
Grassley asks GSA to give vendor 30 days to comply with audit requests -- or else
IDG News Service - Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is calling for the federal government to cancel an IT purchasing contract with Sun Microsystems Inc., but the company says his request is based on bad information.
Grassley has repeatedly criticized Sun for allegedly overcharging federal agencies as part of a so-called multiple award schedule contract with the General Services Administration. His criticisms coincide with claims by the GSA's inspector general that Sun has overcharged agencies by more than $25 million on purchases dating back to June 1997.
In a letter sent on Friday, Grassley asked GSA Administrator Lurita Doan to give Sun a 30-day notice that its governmentwide contract will be canceled if the company doesn't provide information needed for an audit requested by the senator. He accused Sun of not complying with requests for the information from both GSA Inspector General Brian Miller and the contracting officer who is in charge of the vendor's contract.
"I do not understand why Sun would refuse to cooperate fully with this audit," Grassley wrote to Doan. "Why is Sun apparently afraid to open its books for inspection? It makes me wonder: Does Sun have something to hide?"
Grassley's request for a 30-day contract cancellation notice matches a recommendation made previously by Miller, whose office began investigating Sun in September 2004 after receiving a hotline complaint about the company's contract pricing.
But Sun contended in a statement released late Monday that Grassley has been "misled" about the company's cooperation with Miller and other investigators. Sun said it has responded to "multiple demands" from Miller and officials at other agencies.
"Ironically, in the same week the senator accused us of not producing sufficient information, officials [in the inspector general's office] canceled a meeting to discuss these matters because our document production was so voluminous that they needed additional time to review," Sun said. "We have produced tens of thousands of documents, plus transactional data covering billions of dollars in sales, while being subjected to deadlines that appear to be designed to ensure the demands cannot be met."
In addition, Sun has accused Miller of being biased against the company. In its statement, Sun said Miller's reports on its government contracts "are riddled with inaccuracies and conspicuous omissions of multiple known facts."
The company added that Grassley and Miller haven't tried to compare its contract with ones awarded to other IT vendors. "The only party who would be hurt by a cancellation of the Sun GSA contract is the American taxpayer," Sun said. "Our pricing is very often better than [that of] our competitors, and the contract offers the government extremely aggressive discounts and contractual protections."
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