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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

USIS to fight GAO decision

U.S. Investigative Services plans to fight back against a decision by the Government Accountability Office that will potentially strip it of a $210 million contract.

USIS’s professional services division won a contract with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide field office support services.

GAO agreed with FCi Federal, the incumbent on the contract, that USIS shouldn’t be considered a “responsible contractor” because of a ongoing Justice Department investigation into fraud allegations.

USIS is complaining that the GAO decision “flies in the face of the outstanding ratings” USIS has received from the Homeland Security Department as it evaluated proposals for the contract.

It is interesting to note that the USIS unit that won the contract is legally known as U.S. Investigative Services Professional Services Division Inc. The part of the business under investigation by the Justice Department is legally known as USIS LLC. USIS LLC is the parent company of the professional services business.

The distinction is worth noting because GAO found that DHS failed to consider the pending Justice investigation against USIS LLC when picking USIS Professional Services Division Inc. as its contractor.

USIS also draws a distinction between the two. “PSD is not a party to the DOJ civil complaint,” USIS said in a statement.

The professional services business is part of USIS’s global security and solutions business, essentially the only part of USIS left standing after the Office of Personnel Management shut down its security clearance investigation business in August. The company had to lay off 2,100 employees after OPM decided not to exercise options on two contracts.

In asking GAO for a reconsideration, USIS can’t just say it disagrees with GAO’s decision; the company will have to raise new legal issues or present new facts. But this is tricky, too, because GAO will reject new facts or a new legal argument if it is something that USIS should have raised the first time.

It’ll be a tough bar to cross at GAO.

Another alternative is appealing the decision to Court of Federal Claims.

But the appeals process won’t give USIS a reprieve. DHS can move forward and award the contract to FCi.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 21, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Reader Comments

Tue, Oct 21, 2014

Contracts are, significantly, about trust, and the FAR definition and associated case law about"responsibility" reflect this, in part. There is, some would say, concern about the firm's ability to deliver, given its failure to deliver complete, quality controlled reports in the recent past. The firm has admitted this, one can infer. It may also have some hacking vulnerability or other problems w IT management. It is not surprising that some competitor got the attention of the GAO in a protest--subject to appeal, of course. Clearances, and the field data on which adjudications are based, seem too important to be left in considerable doubt because of missing data, insufficient quality control, etc. The company's complaint about the protest outcome--and trying to disown its parent--are subject to ridicule, one would think. Just imagine, earlier the company tried to say that it had turned the corner and put the incomplete-investigative-report problem behind it because it changed out a few senior executives--the "parents," if you will. Not so fast. Companies have layers, and executive oversight of operating businesses for a reason. The execs are not supposed to be detached and on another planet. The more these kinds of points are made, the sillier the company may look to some decision makers and observers. Let's hope for an outcome that gives the government customers for investigations and we citizens a reason to restore confidence in the field data collection and processing and quality management that need to underly all clearance decisions.

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