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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

ManTech, Smartronix win second shot at $220M Air Force contract

ManTech International and Smartronix Inc. won some and lost some in their bid protest over a $218.9 million Air Force contract that went to Jacobs Technology.

But because the Government Accountability Office has told the Air Force to reconsider its price evaluation and make a new award decision, the companies definitely came out on top.

The bid protest stems from a competition for IT technical support for weapons and computer systems for the Air Force. The competition was being run for the Air Force by the General Services Administration through its Alliant contract.

The winning bidder would support activities at Elgin, Nellis, Tyndall, Lackland, and Creech air force bases as well as Air Force activities at the Paxtuxent River Naval Air Station.

After Jacobs won the contract with a $218.9 million bid, Smartronix (with a bid of $290.6 million) and ManTech (with a $252.5 million bid) filed protests with GAO. A fourth company submitted a bid of $224.7 million, but did not file a protest.

They both challenged the realism of Jacobs pricing. Smartronix also claimed that Jacobs had a conflict of interest, but GAO denied that part of their protest because the company couldn’t provide any evidence of a conflict.

The protesters also challenged the reasonableness of the agency’s best-value trade off and the resulting source selection decision. But because GAO fund the price evaluation flawed and enough to recommend a new source selection decision it did not address those aspects of the protest.

On the price evaluation charge, GAO agreed with the companies, who claim that GSA – conducting the evaluation for the Air Force – mostly only compared the prices among the bidders and didn’t do significant market research.

GAO looked at whether the methodology used in the price evaluation was reasonable. Unfortunately for GSA and the Air Force, the record GAO reviewed had little evidence that substantive review and analysis of the pricing data was conducted.

“The only evidence of the review in the contemporaneous record, however, is the statement in the Award Decision document that ‘each offeror’s cost data and methodology was rational[ ] and reasonable,’” GAO wrote in its decision.

When GAO asked for a written clarification that the contracting officer “actually reviewed any underlying market survey data," the contracting officer stated that “Jacobs provided as part of its support cost data, data from Salary.com,” GAO said.

The agency reviewed that data and determined that proposed labor rates were realistic.

The contracting officer also prepared a chart that compared each bidders proposed labor rates and hourly labor rates for each labor category. But beyond this, GAO said it found that the contracting officer didn’t evaluate individual labor rates for realism.

GAO also said that Jacobs labor price proposal should have triggered GSA and the Air Force to conduct more analysis of their proposal.

For example, the contracting officer should have questioned Jacobs’ ability to hire the incumbent workforce as it proposed with labor rates in its proposal, GAO wrote.

On the conflict of interest allegation, Smartronix said that Jacobs should have been excluded from the competition because it currently holds a contract at Elgin Air Force Base, and because that contract prohibits Jacobs from bidding on other work. The company has unequal access to information. According to Smartonix, this put Jacobs in a position to shape the competition.

The Air Force allowed Jacobs to bid on the contract because the scope of work on the two contracts were different, so it saw no organizational conflict of interest concerns.

GAO agreed, saying that Smartronix offered no evidence of a conflict or that the Air Force’s and GSA’s analysis of a possible conflict was flawed.

GAO also denied Smartronix’s allegation that the evaluation of non-price factors such capability demonstration and transition plan factors.

But the lost portions of the protests were far outweighed by the one part of the protests that GAO agreed with, so Smartronix and ManTech find themselves back in the hunt for this lucrative contract.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:32 AM

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