GAO waves off Avue TSA protest

The Government Accountability Office says it does not have the authority to hear a protest by Avue Technologies Corp. over a large Transportation Security Administration contract awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. in early July.

GAO said this week it would not consider the protest because it has no authority over TSA procurements initiated before June 23. Avue filed protests with both GAO and the Federal Aviation Administration in late July over the $1.2 billion human resources contract. It filed with both agencies because it wasn't clear which would have jurisdiction. Avue's filings were made in conjunction with one of its resellers, Carahsoft Technology Corp., of Reston, Va.

Avue officials vowed to vigorously pursue the protest with FAA.

In its decision, GAO noted that TSA procurements were subject only to the FAA's acquisition management system until Congress passed the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, which was enacted Dec. 26, 2007.

That law repealed TSA's authority to use the FAA's acquisition management system, made its procurements subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and gave GAO authority to consider protests over its awards. The law stipulated that changes stemming from the legislation would be effective 180 days after the law was enacted. GAO noted that the protest challenges the award of a contract based on a solicitation issued Oct. 18, 2007.

"We view the protest, including the argument regarding the scope of the services to be performed, as challenging TSA's actions pursuant to the Oct. 18 solicitation and, as such, outside our jurisdiction," wrote GAO General Counsel Gary Kepplinger in a decision posted on the agency's Web site.

Avue officials maintain that GAO's decision as to its jurisdiction in the matter is wrong in part because of a post-award decision that could potentially add $1.86 billion in additional work to cover the Homeland Security Department headquarters, according to an Aug. 7 company news release. As for the award, Avue holds that TSA should have selected a vendor that is part of the federal Human Resources Line of Business program.

Despite the GAO's decision, "Avue's protest [will] continue in full force under the applicable FAA protest procedures and other venues," said Linda Rix, Avue's co-chief executive officer.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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