GAO rejects protest of $70 million IT contract at CDC

A biological technician works at a lab at the Centers for Disease Control

A biological technician works at a lab at the Centers for Disease Control Gregory Smith/AP

Unisys claimed it was misled about staffing costs.

The Comptroller General’s Office rejected arguments from Unisys Corp. on Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tricked it into overbidding on a $70 million contract to combine the agency’s legacy information technology systems.

Unisys argued CDC officials misled the company into raising its proposed price tag from $61 million to $86 million to remedy staffing insufficiencies the agency pointed out in its original bid, according to the Comptroller General’s decision.

CDC noted similar insufficiencies in winning bidder HP Enterprise Services’ $71 million proposal but HP responded by arguing the original staffing levels -- and the original price tag -- were sufficient, the report said.

Evidently CDC was convinced and awarded the seven-month contract with four option years to HP.

Unisys argued it made a natural presumption that the best response to CDC’s concerns would be to increase staff, according to the decision. The CG’s office said CDC wasn’t responsible for Unisys’ presumption and the agency was under no obligation to “spoon feed” the vendor a particular way to remedy its concerns.

The contract was aimed at consolidating more than 2,000 separate operating systems and 650 applications that currently run on more than 1,700 virtual and 1,300 physical servers, the report said. Unisys had been the contractor for part of the legacy system.