IBM gains a third chance at $786M Army ERP contract

The Army has picked Accenture twice to consolidate support for a variety of enterprise resource planning systems. IBM has protested twice. Now we are on to round three.

IBM has worked its way back into the competition for a $786.7 million Army contract to consolidate several enterprise resource planning contracts.

Accenture has been picked twice and IBM has protested the same number of times. IBM's latest protested has resulted in another corrective action by the Army, which is going to re-evaluate parts of the proposals submitted by IBM and Accenture.

Obviously, IBM keeps finding something in the Army’s process that is causing the service to rethink its decision. But so far Big Blue has not been able to dissuade the Army from picking Accenture.

The battle for this contract goes back to late 2019 when Accenture won it the first time. IBM immediately protested because it is an incumbent on one of the contracts being consolidated.

The Army took its first corrective action in March. After several months, the Army awarded the contract to Accenture again. IBM filed its protest in September, with a decision due Jan. 4.

With the Army taking another corrective action, the Government Accountability Office has dismissed IBM’s protest because there is no longer an award to protest. GAO has not ruled on the merits of IBM’s protest.

I’m trying to figure out if there is any significance to the timing of the dismissal. IBM filed its protest of the second award to Accenture on Sept. 23. GAO has 100 days after a protest filing to make a decision. There are two deadlines during those 100 days.

The Army had 30 days after the protest is filed to send a response to GAO, so that would have been due around Oct. 23. IBM then has 10 days to comment on the response, which would be at about Nov. 2 and Day 40.

GAO deliberates between Day 40 and Day 100. It can ask for more filings from the companies, can go into alternative dispute resolution, or hold a hearing.

The protester can also file a supplemental protest, usually based on something it has learned from the procurement record and the agency’s filing with GAO.

IBM filed its supplemental protest Nov. 2. Here I think there must have been something in that supplemental protest that triggered the Army to take a corrective action. The Army likely informed GAO that it was taking a corrective action on Nov. 12 and GAO dismissed IBM’s protest.

None of that means IBM has an inside track on ultimately winning the contract. The Army could just as likely fix the problem and award it again to Accenture. But the possibility of an IBM win is still there.

The contract consolidates support for a variety of ERP systems including the Logistics Modernization Program, Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program Hub, Global Combat Support System-Army, General Fund Enterprise Business Systems and GFEBS-Sensitive Activities.