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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Artel prevails in SSA bid protest

Artel has cleared the bid protest hurdle and has succeeded in taking away a satellite services contract from Hughes Network Systems.

Hughes was the incumbent provider of nationwide satellite services to the Social Security Administration.

Artel first won the fixed-price contract in March 2014 and Hughes filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, questioning Artel’s experience. The agency decided to take a corrective action that allowed the bidders to submit revised bids. It would then make a new award.

In May, the companies submitted revised proposals, and Artel again won, and Hughes again filed a protest.

A couple of things are worth noting from the GAO decision.

Artel had a lower score for its past performance – very good compared to exceptional for Hughes. The technical approaches and compatibility with Social Security standards were scored equally for both companies.

On price, Artel came in at $18.5 million, and Hughes at $19.1 million.

Social Security had set up a source selection evaluation board to evaluate the non-price factors in the proposals. The board recommended that the contract go to Hughes.

But the selection authority thought Artel was a better value because its price was lower and because its past performance was still strong enough to give the agency confidence that Artel could meet the requirements of the contract.

In other words, Hughes’ higher past performance score wasn’t enough to overcome Artel’s lower price.

Hughes, of course, protested on these points, saying that Social Security improperly determined best value. But GAO rejected that argument.

But what I really find interesting is what Artel did when Social Security asked for the revised proposals when it took its corrective action.

Hughes only revised its price, but Artel took the opportunity to strengthen its technical proposal, adding more information about the satellite work it had done for the Defense Information Systems Agency, and what its teammate had done for Kroger.

The company grabbed the opportunity to make its proposal stronger and that probably made the difference.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 29, 2015 at 9:34 AM

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