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Nick Wakeman

Former USIS unit still mired in protest fight

I might have been a little premature in declaring the U.S. Investigative Services saga to be over. A former USIS business continues to be embroiled in a bid protest fight that stretches back to when it was owned by USIS.

The Government Accountability Office has twice ruled against the former USIS Global Security and Solutions for winning a $210 million contract with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, a part of the Homeland Security Department.

The business unit is now owned by PAE but was part of USIS when it first won the contract in July 2014. A competing bidder and the incumbent on the contract, FCi Federal Inc., protested and won the argument that DHS didn’t consider the legal and financial issues the larger USIS was having at the time.

USIS was under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly passing on background investigations as completed when they were not completed. USIS, which eventually filed for bankruptcy, recently settled those allegations.

The unit that won the DHS contract was not involved in the background investigation business and argued that it was a separate legal entity, and therefore DHS didn’t need to hold the Justice investigation against in making a determination that it was a “responsible contractor.”

But GAO disagreed and told DHS to reconsider the bids and make a new decision.

DHS again awarded the contract to the former USIS business, now known as PAE National Security Solutions.

FCi protested again, and GAO again has sided with the incumbent.

In the GAO decision, it appears that DHS didn’t re-evaluate bids as the GAO had recommended. The agency found that PAE National Security Solutions was a responsible contractor because it was now part of PAE and not part of USIS. It didn’t need to re-evaluate because the purchase by PAE “had no impact on USIS …technical proposal or how it would perform the contract,” according to the GAO decision.

GAO didn’t like that answer. The original proposal had multiple references to how the then USIS unit would rely on the USIS parent for support.

GAO wrote: The record shows that the sale materially and significantly altered the approach to contract performance as set forth in the originally submitted USIS PSD proposal, but the agency nevertheless generally confined its review to the effect on PAE/USIS PSD’s responsibility, with only limited consideration of the effect on the awardee’s past performance rating. In these circumstances, we find the agency’s implementation of our recommendation to be unreasonable and sustain the protest on this basis.

This time around, GAO wants the agency to request revised proposals, conduct a new evaluation and make a new selection. They also want DHS to reimburse FCi for its costs including attorney fees.

Meanwhile, FCi as the incumbent continues to provide field office support services to DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

PAE declined to comment on the next steps it might take.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:31 AM

Reader Comments

Fri, Aug 28, 2015 Dave Mischbuccha

The story is short. GAO's release, which is nonbonding but rarely ignored, says that the USIS subpart of PAE is not now in a position to deliver as originally proposed. for example, it lacks the dept of resources and pertinent supervision. Seperately, anyone observing USIS will plausibly have doubts about its veracity and honesty as a collection of people who were often involved in submitting incomplete background checks to the government but billing for the full piece of work One would be amazed if PAE does not lose this protest. In doing so, it could gain some friends for being reasonable. All the protest does at this point is sustain in many memories a relatively rogue period for the company. If USIS were doing background checks for clearances for a govt customer and focused on the people who set up its field management and quality control and claims strategy, what kind of fact-based conclusion would be drawn?

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