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By Nick Wakeman

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Missing document kills DISA bid

It’s the government’s version of he said/she said, and NOVA Corp., a small business battling for a $25 million DISA contract, ended up on the losing side of the argument .

The company was eliminated from the competition to provide support services to DISA’s global service desk. When the four-year contract went to Chameleon Integrated Services, NOVA learned in its debrief that DISA kicked it out of the competition because it failed to submit its DD Form 254 or Defense Contract Security Classification Specification form for handling classified material.

That was news to NOVA because it claimed in its protest with the Government Accountability Office that it did submit the form with its proposal. Besides, the company argued, the form was not material to the evaluation. The DISA contracting officer could have resolved the “minor error” by telling NOVA of the omission and letting it file the form late.

To back up its argument, NOVA supplied GAO with a sworn statement from the employee who uploaded the proposal to DISA. He explains the process he used, and that if DISA didn’t receive the form, it was because of a problem with DISA’s system.

DISA, in turn, submitted statements from its software deployment branch chief as well as records of all files uploaded to the DISA system that day. The branch chief said he reviewed system user logs, website logs, production support logs and developer logs to see if there were problems with the site. There were not, according to DISA.

DISA said it received 10 files from NOVA the day it submitted its proposal, but none of the files were Volume IV where NOVA said they would find Form 254.

Without the form, DISA found that NOVA’s proposal was non-responsive, and eliminated them from consideration. They argued they were not required to open discussions with NOVA.

GAO said that other than the affidavit, NOVA provided no other evidence that it submitted the form to DISA. NOVA argued that it has no way of confirming if DISA received its documents, but that agency said that it is possible for contractors to view what they have submitted and see a list of the files successfully uploaded.

In this case, Chameleon submitted a screenshot to GAO of DISA’s website taken by a Chameleon employee after that company submitted its forms. That was probably the nail in NOVA’s coffin.

GAO also didn’t buy NOVA’s argument that the missing form as a minor error. Submitting the form was clearly stated as a requirement, so DISA acted reasonably when it eliminated NOVA’s proposal.

Asking NOVA to submit the form after the proposals were filed goes beyond the usual clarification questions agencies ask. GAO called DISA’s decision proper.

NOVA’s lost argument with GAO and DISA offers the timeless lesson of always asking for a receipt, or in this case, taking a screen shot.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 13, 2015 at 11:17 AM


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