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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Peraton's almost never-ending fight to keep State Department work

In what seems like a never-ending battle, Peraton has filed another protest involving an incumbent State Department contract.

Dating back to 2009, Peraton has supported the State Department’s office of consular systems and technology under a contract known as Service Delivery Outreach and Operations or SDO2. 

The State Department awarded the contract to Vistronix in 2018 through a recompete. But Peraton successfully argued that Vistronix had a conflict of interest and the award was rescinded. The next time, a new award went to ManTech International.

Peraton’s protest of the award to ManTech led the State Department to pull it back for corrective action. Peraton then protested again because they thought the corrective action was too narrow. The Government Accountability Office denied the protest over the corrective action.

The State Department moved ahead with the corrective action and again chose ManTech. Peraton filed another protest.

The same cycle then repeated itself: the State Department took a corrective action, which Peraton challenged as being too narrow.

For that corrective action, the State Department wanted to allow companies to substitute key personnel. Peraton argued new key personnel would impact other parts of their proposals, so they should be allowed to make other revisions.

Unlike the earlier protest, GAO agreed with Peraton this time and told the State Department to either allow the revisions or prohibit anyone from substituting key personnel.

With that suggestion from GAO, the State Department said it would not allow substitutions of key personnel.

Peraton came back with another protest in late 2020. More than two years had passed since the State Department issued the solicitation in January 2018. Peraton argued that the agency’s requirements had changed and were different from those in the original solicitation.

GAO ruled that Peraton’s objections were untimely because they knew of the changes for months. They only protested when it looked like they were going to lose the competition, according to GAO.

So the State Department again made an award to ManTech. Again Peraton has filed a protest, arguing that the evaluation was not done properly. If had been, Peraton says it would have been picked over ManTech.

A decision on the latest protest is expected in August. Unless there is another corrective action.

This is one of those protest stories that is easy to hate. Since the first award, in late 2018, Peraton has filed seven protests. Because the protests haven’t resolved anything, Peraton has continued to provide services under the contract they won in 2019.

On one hand, one can argue that Peraton is just filing protests to prolong its work on the contract.

But to be fair -- GAO has ruled in Peraton’s favor on some of the protests and the State Department itself has taken corrective actions to fix mistakes that Peraton has identified in its protests. So these protests have merit. They are not frivolous.

Does that mean Peraton will ultimately prevail and keep the work? I doubt it, but we’ll see.

Hopefully, the State Department is learning something through this saga. But I’m skeptical of that too.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on May 06, 2021 at 1:09 PM

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