How to make an $871M contract protest proof

What one thing did DISA do to avoid a protest of its $871.4 million test and evaluation contract?

When a contract with a ceiling of $871 million comes across the wire, two things go through my mind:

  • Who won?
  • Who’s going to protest?

It’s a sad commentary on the market, but I think a lot of people ask the same two questions.

So, as I wrote up the Defense Information Systems Agency announcement of its $871.4 million contract award to seven companies, I knew that I’d have to start monitoring the protest docket on the Government Accountability Office’s website.

But when I got to the bottom of the announcement, I happily realized I could take GAO off of my to-do list. Because DISA derailed the protest process.

The agency only received seven proposals. I’m not a math whiz, but having seven proposals and seven winners leaves exactly zero companies that can file a protest.

I have no idea if this was DISA’s strategy or if they just got lucky, but either way, it’s good for the agency.

Look at the seven winners:

  • Alion Science and Technology Corp.
  • American Systems Corp.
  • CGI Group
  • Lockheed Martin
  • ManTech International
  • Science Applications International Corp.
  • TASC Inc.

These aren’t fly-by-night companies; each can boast of qualifications that match DISA’s needs.

Which would you eliminate that wouldn’t open DISA to a protest or two? Even if DISA prevailed, it would delay the start of this contract by months.

What’s the advantage to DISA and the users of the contract if there are five winners or seven? Is there a disadvantage by picking all seven?

I can’t think of any.

So hats off to DISA for making seven awards and thereby getting to jump into this contract with little delay.

Now it’s time for these companies to fight it out, task order by task order. More companies, more competition, better prices and better solutions.

What’s not to like?