TSA's infrastructure contract enters the ridiculous zone
UPDATE: I mischaracterized the Transportation Security Administration's position on the contract. A spokesman told me this morning that the work was halted because there is an ongoing dispute over the jurisdiction to hear the protest. So until that dispute is resolved, TSA has stopped work.
TSA has claimed that the Federal Aviation Administration is the proper authority to hear the protests filed against TSA's award to Computer Sciences Corp. of its $500 million Information Technology Infrastructure Program contract.
“While there is a question of jurisdiction, the protests were filed under the Competition in Contracting Act and its automatic suspension of contract performance. Therefore, TSA reinstated a stay of performance of the CSC contract on Nov. 17,” a TSA spokesman told me via e-mail.
So let me see if I have this straight: Computer Sciences Corp. wins the contract and starts work immediately because it has a 90-day transition deadline to meet.
Then protests are filed Oct. 13 with GAO by the losing bidders: incumbent Unisys Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. The filings automatically stop work.
On Nov. 10, TSA restarts the work because it says the solicitation explicitly stated that the FAA had jurisdiction. FAA protest rules do not require a stoppage.
Then a week later, something convinces TSA to have a change of heart and stops work again. It stopped work as I noted in my update because there is a dispute over who has jurisdiction to hear the protest.
(The sound you are hearing is me scratching my head.)
Understandably, all the companies involved are remaining quiet about the reasons for the back and forth. TSA hasn’t had much more to say either, though I’m trying to get more from them and will update what I can.
But what is dismaying is that after all this time – 16 months just between final solicitation and award – you’d think problems like this could be avoided. TSA should have plenty of documentation to quickly refute the protest, I would think. And if they don’t, GAO -- or whoever -- should just as quickly send them back to the drawing board. No need to drag this all out.
The question I've been asked several times in the last 24 hours is: What's going on?
One commenter on yesterday’s story on the second work stoppage said it best: “This entire thing has gotten ridiculous.”
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 19, 2009 at 9:53 AM