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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Protests continue to plague long-delayed DHS biometrics contract

The fight for a Homeland Security Department contract for biometric support has a long and twisty tale that could probably serve as a poster child for procurement delays.

DHS first tried to award the $47 million professional services contract in May of 2013 when it gave a contract to Ideal Innovations Inc.

The company was to provide DHS and the U.S. Visit Program with support for biometric services such as fingerprint analysis, fingerprint processing, fingerprint search and card enrollment.

After Ideal won the contract, BAE Systems and American Systems Corp. filed protests with the Government Accountability Office, complaining that DHS’ evaluation was flawed. The protests put a halt to any new work on the contract until there was a resolution.

That was two-and-a-half years ago, and that’s nearly exactly where we stand today. While there has been plenty of action, there has been little progress.

The protests by BAE and American Systems led DHS to pull back the awards to look things over and make a new best value decision. The corrective action led GAO to dismiss the protests without ruling on their merit.

After taking a second look, DHS again awarded the contract to Ideal and again BAE and American Systems filed protests.

And yes, you guessed it: DHS pulled back the award again to take another corrective action. This brings us to about April 2015.

More protests were filed by BAE and American Systems in June, arguing that DHS’ corrective action wasn’t adequate.

And again, DHS agreed to rework the corrective action.

Which brings us to the latest bid protest filed by American Systems on July 30, because this time, DHS has awarded the contract to BAE Systems.

No word from Ideal on whether they are going to file a protest after losing a contract that they’ve won twice. They have responded to a request for comment, but you’d think they’d have the strong case.

Assuming DHS doesn’t go for a third corrective action, GAO is expected to make a decision by Nov. 9, almost exactly two-and-a-half years after first making the award. Talk about efficiency, and it looks like DHS has no one but itself to blame.

And just to muddy the waters a bit more, BAE and American Systems have other claims pending before GAO asking for DHS to reimburse them for the costs of the protests they’ve filed to date. Given the track record of corrective actions, I’d say the two companies stand a good chance of earning some of their protest dollars back.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 05, 2015 at 12:49 PM

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