Peraton wins latest round in two-year State Department protest battle

Peraton has won a protest fight with the State Department over how it is handling a recompete of a $193 million contract for IT support.

Peraton’s convoluted protest battle over a State Department protest has reached a positive end for the company, at least for now.

The company protested an award to ManTech International for server and software deployment services. The work would support State’s Office of Consular Systems and Technology. Peraton is the incumbent on the contract, which explains their tenaciousness in pursuing what has been nearly two years of protests.

When ManTech won the task order in September 2019 under the NIH CIO-SP vehicle, Peraton filed a protest claiming that there were numerous evaluation errors and the companies were not treated the same. Peraton was claiming that some of the resumes ManTech submitted didn’t meet the requirements of the solicitation.

As the protest moved forward, Peraton filed supplement protests as it learned more about how State handled the evaluation.

When State realized it was likely to lose the protest, it pulled the award to ManTech to take a corrective action.

But Peraton quickly filed another protest, claiming that the corrective action was too narrow because it was limiting revisions just to the personnel section of the proposals. The Government Accountability Office ruled against Peraton protest.

State move ahead with new evaluations and again awarded the $130 million contract to ManTech.

Peraton protested again and focused its arguments for a second time on the limits that State placed on the revisions, but this time GAO sided with Peraton.

GAO said that it was fine for State to limit the revisions but it couldn’t prohibit Peraton from revising related parts of its proposal. Apparently, changes in key personnel would affect other parts of the proposal. State would let Peraton change those parts but GAO said that was wrong.

GAO now says that State should rework its instructions for how to respond to the corrective action and lift the limitations and make a new award decision.

So ManTech may still end up the ultimate winner but for State this contract is a rolling cluster of missteps.

I’ve left out of this narrative an even earlier protest when State awarded the contract to Vistronix back in September 2018. Yes, nearly two years ago.

Peraton was the protester there and claimed that Vistronix had an organizational conflict of interest that couldn’t be mitigated. The State Department apparently only learned this through the protest and pulled the Vistronix award to take a corrective action that effectively knocked Vistronix out of the competition.

Vistronix lost that protest. Then State awarded the contract to ManTech in September 2019, which then kicked off the round of Peraton protests described above.

It’ll likely be several more months until we see an award and whatever the result, I doubt this battle will be over. This is just a pause.