WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Alliant 2 clears last pre-award protest hurdles

The Government Accountability Office has ruled today against a group of businesses protesting aspects of the solicitation for GSA’s $50 billion Alliant 2 contract.

Several companies have filed pre-award protests, and with this last batch, GSA has prevailed in all of them. There are now no pending protests involving Alliant 2. While protests are pending, GSA could not award the contract.

But with as many 60 winners expected, GSA is still many months away from announcing who will win spots on the contract.

The agency is using a self-scoring process for the proposals where bidders assign themselves points for relevant experience, past performance, systems, certifications and clearances, and organizational risk assessment. The solicitation provided for a total of 83,100 points. Bidders also have to provide documents to support their scores. GSA pioneered this process with the OASIS contract.

Sevatec, InfoReliance Corp., Enterprise Information Services Inc. and Buchanan & Edwards all filed protests with GAO questioning how pricing was evaluated, how points were assigned for small businesses, and if GSA was going to make enough awards to ensure competition at the task order level.

GAO denied all of those arguments.

In the area of pricing, GSA is using a process known as “highest technically rated with a fair and reasonable price.” The protesters complained that federal acquisition regulations do not allow for this type of evaluation. But GAO said while the FAR only talks about LPTA and best value trade-off evaluations, the regulations recognize that “these two processes are not the only source selection processes available.”

GAO also denied that GSA’s evaluation process violated the Competition in Contracting Act.

The protesters also argued that the self-scoring points process wasn’t proper because it didn’t allow for comparison of bidders strengths and weaknesses. But GAO disagreed.

There also were objections to how small business primes received points when they were leading teams of subcontractors that they hadn’t worked with before. Here, GSA sees risks with teams that haven’t worked together before. GAO agreed.

The argument about 60 primes not providing enough competition was interesting. The protesters used an analysis for Alliant 1 task orders that found that about half of the task orders had only one bidder. GSA countered that it has added participation requirements to Alliant 2 to assure competition such as making primes bid on a minimum number of task orders each year. There also is a requirement that primes perform a certain amount of work each year.

GAO said this was a reasonable approach to assure competition.

While these companies may have lost these bid protests, it doesn’t knock them out of the running for the final award. And I’m sure when the final awards are made, we’ll see another batch of protests as well.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:37 AM

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