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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Protests resolved, 18F prepares for next round of BPAs

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include comments from Octo as well as to correct the pricing on the bids.

When the Court of Federal Claims ruled against Octo Consulting this week, it cleared the way for GSA to finally launch is Agile development contract for its 18F office.

The agency awarded BPAs to 16 companies in August, but was soon hit with several protests.

Octo’s was the last remaining one that stood in the way of the contract getting off the ground.

GSA’s David Zvenyach said that the agency would begin awarding work soon under Pool 3 and that two more blanket purchase agreements for designers and developers will soon be awarded as well. 

With the resolution of the Octo protest, the GSA has only added one company – InQbation – to the list of companies that will compete for task orders coming out of 18F. 18F is the organization that GSA created to offer quick, turnaround solutions to government agencies.

The full pool of contractors are:

  • Acumen Solutions Inc.
  • Applied Information Sciences Inc.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
  • DSoft Technology Company
  • Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc.
  • Flexion Inc.
  • InQbation
  • NCI Information Systems Inc.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector LLP
  • SemanticBits
  • TechFlow Inc.
  • TeraLogics LLC
  • Three Wire Systems LLC
  • True Tandem LLC
  • Vencore Services and Solutions Inc.
  • Ventera Corporation
  • World Wide Technology

Protests before the Government Accountability Office were filed by InfoZen, MetroStar Systems and TCG but those were dismissed when Octo filed with the Court of Federal Claims.

The court rejected Octo’s claim because it found that the company was not included in the competitive range of 20 companies that GSA evaluated for the final awards. Octo’s pricing placed it at twenty-third.

Booz Allen was the highest of the original 16 winners with a bid of $49,600. TrueTandem was the lowest of the 16 with a bid of $16,500, according to court records. Octo’s bid was not part of the court record.

The court ruled that Octo didn’t have a “substantial economic interest” because its bid placed it outside of the top 20 bids it said it would consider for a final award, and therefore the company wasn’t eligible for an award anyway.

In an email, Octo told me that their bid was only $1,600 higher than the closest awardee. "We were understandably disappointed," the company spokesman said.

The company pursued the protest out of a desire to "understand as much as we could about the evaluation process and ensure we could more effectively respond to future requirements."

The email went on to say that "today's procurement environment does not lend itself to constructive feedback to improve future proposal efforts."

The company said it embraced 18F's "novel' approach. To bid on the contract, companies has to submit a solution using datasets from FDA, not just a written proposal. 

"The protest allowed us to evaluate where 18F placed creative emphasis and afforded us visibility into what a forward looking agency like 18F seeks when it comes to creative deliverables," it wrote in the email to me.

The Agile BPA for 18F has been somewhat controversial. One common complaint we’ve gotten is the list of winners has a lot of the usual government contracting names on it and isn’t as groundbreaking or innovative as GSA has let on.

I’m not sure if that is a fair complaint because I know a lot of these companies have been building Agile development expertise for several years.

We’ll have to see who wins the two next BPAs -- Pool 1 and Pool 2 -- for designers and developers and see if any new names enter the fray.

Despite the lost protest, Octo remains a big fan of 18F. The email emphasized "our enthusiastic support for 18F and their commitment to transparency and delivering user centric agile solutions."

"While we were disappointed in the outcome around 18F's award decision, we hope to find other ways to pursue this type of work that is being done in Pool 3 with other future 18F marketplace opportunities," the company wrote.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 18, 2015 at 9:32 AM

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