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Eagle II protests get closer to moment of truth

We should know within the next week or so how the Homeland Security Department is going to handle the flood of protests that have hit its $22 billion Eagle II contract.

Early indications aren’t clear on whether DHS will see the fight through, or if they will pull back awards and revaluate.

It could be a mixture; they’ll fight some protests and re-evaluate others.

In a letter earlier this month, DHS chief procurement officer Nick Nayak defended the decisions in answering a series of questions from the House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul.

He talked about a “comprehensive quality assurance process,” meaning that DHS has taken three years to award the contract because it was being very careful.

One thing caught my eye, and that had to do with the large number of incumbents from Eagle I, who failed to make the cut for Eagle II. Some of these include Lockheed Martin, Accenture, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

Nayak’s response makes me think he leans toward fighting protests from these companies.

“DHS is confident that the pool of EAGLE II contractors will provide DHS programs with the capability to successfully perform homeland security IT projects of any size,” he wrote.

Competition among the contract holders also will help DHS get the best solutions.

He also said that DHS agencies can use other contracts to reach companies not on Eagle II if they meet one of six exemptions: emergency operations, national security, remote locations, greater savings/lower prices, required by statute and sources specified by regulation.

So, you better believe that every company who is not on Eagle II is looking at their current work and seeing how they can fit it into those exceptions.

Nayak’s letter makes me think they’ll fight the protests, but other indications are that they might not fight all the protests.

Last week, protests by five small businesses were dismissed. All the protests were filed in late November by companies that lost in the competition for spots in the service delivery portion of the contract. DHS gave 15 small business contracts in that area.

A dismissal doesn’t mean that GAO ruled on the merits of the protest; it means that DHS took some sort of action – usually that it will reconsider their bids – that made the protests moot.

The lucky five are Integrated Systems Inc., Z&A Infotek Corp., ActioNet, Powertek Corp. and Integrated Systems Inc.

When I saw that, I thought DHS was leaning toward caving on the awards, but the letter to the Homeland Security Committee makes me think they’ll fight.

We’ll know by the end of December because that’s when DHS faces its 30-day deadline for its first response to the protests that are still active. And many of those are protests by large businesses.

Maybe they’ll fight the large and give contracts to the small businesses.

Either way, we’re likely in for several more months of delays for the contract, particularly for the service delivery portion, which is expected to be the largest and busiest part of the contract.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 17, 2013 at 12:49 PM


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