Self-scoring process spurs protests in $5B FBI IT recompete

The FBI is using a self-scoring process to evaluate bidders for a $5 billion IT services recompete but companies are complaining that it is unfair after they were eliminated.

The General Services Administration’s OASIS contract vehicle for high-end professional services was one of the first procurements to rely heavily on a self-scoring mechanism to evaluate bidders.

At first glance, it seems like an efficient way to eliminate bidders on large vehicles that will have a large number of winners. GSA used self-scoring for both the unrestricted and small business portions of its Alliant 2 IT solutions vehicle, the latter of which is going through a redo after one successful post-award protest.

Self-scoring has picked up steam since its success with OASIS, which saw very few bid protests. But now we are seeing pre-award protests by companies eliminated early in the process because their scores didn’t reach a certain threshold.

The most recent one involves the FBI’s recompete of its IT Supplies and Support Services Contract, which has a $5 billion ceiling. The FBI plans to make 30 blanket purchase agreement awards for the follow-on IT Enterprise Contract Support vehicle, or ITECS.

So far, five companies have filed pre-award protests after their elimination from the competition: NTT Data, Freealliance, Xpect Solutions, Fusion Tech and Agile Defense.

These are generally hard protests to win because you have self-scored yourself. Companies often file protests knowing they are a long-shot, but hoping some other mistakes by the agency are revealed in the process.

Protests aside, these self-scoring procurements trouble me. They seem to be a bit of a cop-out for the government as self-scoring focuses primarily on past performance. Companies have to provide data that supports their score.

But something nags at me about this process. Maybe it is because it makes it easier to eliminate companies from the competition. It seems to lack any kind of judgement call on the part of the government.

Where’s the evaluation? Where’s the nuance? Is there room for innovation? Maybe all that comes out in the competition for task orders.

I’m not a procurement expert but have heard from others who voice similar concerns.

I don’t see these type of evaluation schemes going away anytime soon, so the best thing to do is watch these protests and learn from them.