NASA open-source initiative stalled by vendor protest, report says

Proprietary software company files GAO bid protest over NASA's prospective switch to open-source CMS

A formal bid protest by a proprietary CMS provider over NASA's desired move to an open-source system has halted the process at least temporarily, according to a report from Federal Computer Week.

The protest comes on the heels of NASA's decision, announced in late December, to switch from a website CMS provided by eTouch Federal Systems to an open-source solution from InfoZen Inc. The estimated value of the contract, according to InfoZen, is $40 million, spread over a base one-year deal with four additional one-year options.

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However, eTouch disputed the award of the contract days after it was announced by filing a protest with the Government Accountability Office, putting the deal into administrative limbo. According to a general overview of the process published by the GAO, the bid protest amounts to an accusation that NASA failed to follow procurement rules in awarding the contract to InfoZen.

The exact substance of eTouch's protest is currently unknown, however -- the GAO does not publicize details of bid protests until after they have been adjudicated, so it's unclear precisely what rules eTouch feels were broken in the process.

According to the GAO's rules, a decision will be issued no later than April 8.

NASA has been moving consistently toward the use of open-source solutions across the board, and the current priority in its Open Government Plan is focused on the Web environment. The agency's public plan states that a major goal is "vendor independence," and that it would prefer open-source technology over proprietary options.

Email Jon Gold at and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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