GSA not expecting protests of Alliant Round 2

The redo of the Alliant information technology services contract has General Services Administration officials feeling confident that their decision to award contracts to 59 companies will stand up under scrutiny.

If there are protests again this time, they expect to win, officials said.

“We followed to the letter the weaknesses that were identified by the Court of Federal Claims on our part,” said Mary Powers-King, director of governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) and IT schedule programs at GSA. “We did our part to improve.”

“A major part of our strategy going through this re-evaluation was to make absolutely sure that we were on very solid ground if challenged,” she said.

GSA announced March 27 that 59 companies were awarded places on the $50 billion, 10-year Alliant GWAC. In July 2007, GSA awarded 29 companies spots on the Alliant contract, and added Stanley Associates in January 2008, after re-examining bids of the nine companies that protested the awards.

Officials began re-evaluating 62 bids for Alliant after U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Francis M. Allegra a year ago threw out the agency’s initials awards. He ruled that GSA had not adequately evaluated bids.

As GSA began its second round of evaluations, companies had an opportunity to update their proposals and then give their “best and final offer.” Powers-King said GSA opened discussions with the companies to talk about their deficiencies in their previous bids and allowed them to better develop what they offered. She said improvements by both sides are what give GSA solid ground to stand on against any protests.

She didn’t think any companies would protest the awards. but quickly added that there’s always the chance. Losing bidders have 10 days to file a protest.

Officials warned against reading too much into the 59 winners from 62 bids that GSA reviewed. Several mergers and acquisitions, and other typical marketplace moves happened since 2007. For example, two companies bidding for places on Alliant merged and one withdrew its proposal.

“That makes the math a little fuzzy, if you will,” said Michael Sade, deputy assistant Federal Acquisition Service commissioner for Integrated Technology Services. Officials would not give any information on the companies that didn’t receive awards or even details on mergers between which companies.

As Alliant moves forward, officials said they would consider a follow-on contract to the $50 billion GWAC if the money from the economic stimulus law pushes Alliant above its threshold.

“Clearly, as we started out on Alliant, we didn’t have a crystal ball to know about the specifics of the stimulus,” said Powers-King. Officials took into account emerging technologies based on the presidential transition and new IT requirements from the Office of Management and Budget when setting the ceiling price for contract in 2006. At this point though, they’re comfortable with that price, even with the $787 billion in money that agencies now have to spend.

“We always try to give a sufficient ceiling amount that’s going to be above what we probably in reality think will come through,” she said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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