In 1983, the Spanish government gave Comision Interministerial de Adquiscion de Bienes y Servicios Informaticos (CIABSI) responsibility for reviewing and approving all acquisitions of data processing equipment, software systems, and consulting services. For any contract the commission requests formal and public bids for which the subcontractors mail in their proposals. The CIABSI (consisting of 26 representatives from the president's office, the budget commission and the ministries involved) then convenes to evaluate and rank the offers. In making these decisions, they typically weigh 100 criteria and over 50 proposals.
A standardized and fully autonomous decision support system (DSS) was developed to modernize the whole process of screening incoming proposals, analyzing data, and expediting the CIABSI's selections. The problem was modeled as a discrete multi-criteria decision-making paradigm. Consider a case in which a government has to choose among four software packages. They might identify 11 criteria for evaluation, which are structured in a hierarchy of three levels as shown in Figure 4 below.
The user defines each criterion's parameters, lists the alternatives and enters their evaluations with respect to the criteria as provided by the suppliers. Subsequently, the program shows the complete decision matrix. The software provides for three different normalization procedures to prevent suppliers from performing their customary strategic manipulations. It can conduct domination and satisfaction pre-analysis, it offers four different aggregation methods, and it performs several sensitivity analyses. This decision support system has proven to be a valuable tool to secure the most satisfactory results. CIABSI's activities have grown over the past years, and so has the total volume of contracts handled, as depicted in Table 1 below. The users have appreciated user friendliness, capabilities, and flexibility of the DDS system.