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Why GD's protest arguments fell short


General Dynamics made a strong argument to remain in the competition for a recompete of a Homeland Security Department contract it currently holds, but alas its argument fell short.

I reported last week that the Government Accountability Office had denied GD’s protest but the details of the decision were not available until this week.

It’s an interesting read and I think GD made a good case that it should stay in the running for the National Area and Transnational IT Operations and Next Generation Support contract known as NATIONS. GD is the incumbent on the Technology Operations and Maintenance Infrastructure Support, known as TOMS, which NATIONS will replace.

GD was eliminated from the competitive range of the contract during evaluations, which sparked its protest. DHS has yet to name a winner of what is expected to be a three-year, $143.9 million contract.

According to the GAO decision, DHS gave GD lower technical scores for reducing its headcount on the contract during the option years. The reduction led DHS to conclude that GD couldn’t meet the requirements of the contract.

GD’s argued that DHS said it wanted efficiencies and cost savings, and reducing headcount was one the company’s strategies for giving DHS want it wanted.

GD focused on staffing because the solicitation talks about DHS’s desire for “next generation” support that uses IT capabilities more efficiently and effectively.

By rejecting GD’s proposal, the agency “abandoned the RFP’s focus on innovation, remote support, and reduction of desk side support at the field site and service centers,” according to GAO’s description of GD’s argument.

But GAO ruled that GD misinterpreted DHS’s intent in the solicitation.

I have to say I think GD makes a more convincing argument that GAO. But you be the judge.

One mistake that GD may have made was that many of its claimed technical efficiencies were set forth in its business proposal, not its technical proposal. The business proposal wasn’t provided to the technical evaluation committee.

GD argues that the information in the business proposal should have been considered under the management approach factor, but GAO disagreed. “We see no error in the agency’s evaluation.”

Another area where GD was penalized was that GD’s program manager and deputy program manager for the contract appeared to have multiple roles at the company. DHS didn’t like that GD was allocating a certain number of hours a year for each to the contract. The number of hours allocated was redacted from the decision.

GAO agreed with the agency but I think companies should have flexibility in how they use their senior people. Agencies shouldn’t try to dictate that.

Part of me wonders if this solicitation is an example of an agency saying it wants one thing – efficiency and new models – but doesn’t really understand what that means and gets uncomfortably when someone proposes what they ask for.

I encourage you to read the GAO decision and let me know what you think.

 

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 18, 2014 at 10:39 AM


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