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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Will protest decision bring Eagle II relief?

recent Government Accountability Office decision upholding some small business awards under the Homeland Security Department’s Eagle II contract might finally kick loose some activity under the $22 billion program.

Or maybe not.

GAO denied a protest in February by USmax Corp. over DHS’s award decisions in the small-business track of the service delivery category, under which the agency made 27 awards. GAO released its decision this week.

There are no pending protests in that category now, so in theory, DHS should be at liberty to proceed with the contract.

But nothing is ever that simple.

GAO has dismissed multiple bid protests –43 at last count – that spread across all three functional categories. A dismissal generally means that the agency, in this case DHS, is taking some sort of corrective action such as re-evaluating bids.

What DHS is doing with those bids isn’t exactly clear. A re-evaluation doesn’t automatically mean an award, so the companies have the right to resurrect their protests if they want.

So, the impact of the USmax decision, if there is any, won’t be known for a while, but GAO’s decision does give some interesting insights into Eagle II and the process DHS has been going through.

USmax objected specifically to awards to Citizant Inc. and Applied Computing Technologies. The two companies were the lowest bidders, and USmax argued that DHS’ price realism evaluation was flawed.

GAO walks through the process including how DHS compared the prices bid to the prices on each company’s General Services Administration schedules. They also looked at the technical portions to see if the companies understood the requirements.

Both companies were found to have bid within what DHS concluded was a reasonable range. GAO agreed.

GAO also found that the evaluation process of bids by Citizant and Applied Computing did not prevent DHS from awarding a contract to USmax. In other words, an award to Citizant didn’t take an award away from USmax.

Here are some interesting facts that came to light in the GAO decision:

  • 151 – That’s the number of bids DHS received for just the small business portion of the functional category 1. Granted, category one is for service delivery, the largest and broadest area in Eagle II, but that’s a lot of bids to evaluate.
  • 17 – Number of small business bidders with pricing “significantly” below the independent government cost estimate that DHS was using to evaluate the bids. DHS compared pricing from each contract to the independent government cost estimate and the mean of the pricing from all the bidders.

As I read the legalese of the GAO document, it dawned on me just how long Eagle II has been in the process of getting off the ground.

According to the Eagle II timeline at Deltek, the industry day for Eagle II was July 29, 2009, so we are just five months shy of a five-year anniversary of the kickoff of the procurement. The GAO document references the Nov. 1, 2010, release of the solicitation and the due date for proposals of Feb. 23, 2011, more than three years ago.

I appreciate wanting to get it right, but the wheels certainly grind slowly.

Maybe an alternative is needed for these huge task order contracts that can deliver the kind of services the government wants and the competition that it needs.

I wonder if the pain, expense and time it takes to get these behemoths off the ground is outweighed by the benefits they bring.

In an age when technology changes at a pace measured in months, should it take the government years to get a contract awarded?

I don’t know the answer to this questions; it’s just something to ponder.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 06, 2014 at 9:24 AM

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