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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Protests over $10B DHS IT contract back under consideration

NOTE: This story has been extensively re-written because of some mistakes and mischaracterizations in the original story.

A pair of companies that saw their protests regarding the Homeland Security Department's $10 billion FirstSource III contract dismissed over being untimely are asking the Government Accountability Office to reconsider that decision.

Sources are indicating those two small businesses will see their original protests reinstated.

But first I have to explain a couple mistakes I made in writing the original story that was published a few days ago.

I wrote that KPaul Properties and Z-SofTech Solutions had been eliminated from the competition for FirstSource III, DHS' vehicle for acquiring IT hardware and software from small businesses. They were not eliminated. That was a misunderstanding on my part. I got that wrong.

The companies protested requirements in the solicitation that dealt with certain ISO certifications that were required as part of the phase one submission for FirstSource III.

GAO did not rule on the merit of those protests. Instead, the oversight agency dismissed the protests because it believed they came after the due date for the phase one submissions. The appropriate time to raise those kinds of objections is before submissions are due.

Here is where another misunderstanding occurred. The companies actually submitted their protests before the due date, which had been extended by DHS. But GAO apparently didn’t know about the extension.

It is unclear how that misunderstanding occurred. But somehow GAO worked from the wrong date and made the decision.

GAO will not comment since it is a now active case. I’ve asked KPaul and Z-SofTech companies for copies of their requests for reconsideration. No luck there so far.

My hunch is that GAO will act on the requests for reconsideration by reinstating the original protests and adjudicating those.

If the case goes to a full decision, we’ll probably learn what happened with the date. If DHS takes a corrective action that addresses the protests, we’ll likely never learn what happened. But we’ll keep trying.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 22, 2021 at 1:35 PM

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