Inside the protests that failed to bring down SSA's $7.8B IT contract

Protesters targeted CGI's Healthcare.gov work and Leidos' merger with Lockheed Martin's IT business as weaknesses but failed to convince GAO that there was a problem with Social Security's $7.8 billion contract award.

There is a lot in the now public Government Accountability Office decision to deny protests by Accenture, CSRA and DXC Technology over a multi-billion dollar contract award to three of their competitors.

Leidos, CGI Federal and Northrop Grumman all won spots last year on the Social Security Administration’s $7.8 billion IT Support Services Contract known as ITSSC.

I reported earlier about GAO denying the protests but the decision was just released this week.

It is long and detailed, but two things jumped out at me:

  • CGI’s infamous HealthCare.gov project came up as part of one of its contract references.
  • Protesters raised questions about Leidos' 2016 merger with Lockheed Martin’s IT business.

In their proposals, bidders submitted three contract references and for one of its submissions, CGI used the Enterprise System Development contract it holds with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. It was under that contract that CGI won a $209 million task order to develop Healthcare.gov.

As is well-known in the market, the Healthcare.gov project went south for CGI and twork on the portal was turned over to Accenture.

In its proposal, CGI did not shy away from the Healthcare.gov task order and included a discussion in its proposal of the problems it encountered. SSA received past performance questionnaires from CMS for five ESD task orders but not the Healthcare.gov task order, according to GAO.

SSA based its evaluation of CGI’s performance on the ESD contract on the five questionnaires and did not ask for more information on other task orders. For this contract, SSA graded CGI’s performance as “Very Good.”

DXC and Accenture went ballistic -- or “vigorously” disputed as GAO put it -- over the positive rating for CGI. The protest argued SSA ignored CGI’s problems with Healthcare.gov, which they said were common knowledge. Protesters said there were GAO reports, CMS reports, media coverage and congressional hearings outlining the problems.

But in the five questionnaires submitted, CGI received stellar views: always on budget, stability of key personnel, receptive and no issues in meeting deadlines or providing reports.

GAO wrote that “even were we to assume that the agency had or should have had knowledge of CGI’s performance of the Healthcare.gov task order, in assessing past performance, it is proper for the agency’s evaluation to reflect the totality of an offeror’s prior contract performance, and an agency may reasonably assign a satisfactory rating to an offeror despite the fact that portions of its prior performance may have been unsatisfactory.”

So Healthcare.gov might have been a problem child for CGI. But its performance for CMS was strong overall.

Those findings were consistent with CGI’s past performance reference on another contract with the California Franchise Tax Board. The tax board told SSA that they would hire CGI again.

Accenture and CSRA also went after Leidos and its merger with Lockheed Martin’s IT business. Lockheed submitted its bid for the SSA contract on May 11, 2016, three months before the transaction with Leidos had closed. Leidos explained in their proposal what would happen as part of the transition after the acquisition closed.

SSA accepted the explanation and found that the transaction wouldn’t have an impact on Leidos’ ability to perform on the contract.

Accenture and CSRA claimed that SSA didn’t independently analyze the statements from Lockheed and Leidos. One of their arguments was that the entity that submitted the proposal no longer exists.

But GAO found that CSRA and Accenture did not back up their argument and that Lockheed’s proposals explained how the two companies would come together post-merger.

Interestingly, Leidos has once lost a bid protest because GAO supported the Army Corps of Engineers’ contention that making an award to Leidos during the merger with Lockheed would be too risky.

But the big difference is that it was an agency making the call and not a protester making the argument.

There were other points in the decision about price evaluations, unequal discussions and best value determinations. GAO rejected those as well. But CGI and the Leidos-Lockheed merger were the ones that stood out as a different from the usual protest fare.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.