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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Accenture unit comes up empty with bid protest victory

A bid protest victory for ASM Research might mean nothing for the company; no second shot at a $85 million contract, just reimbursement for its costs. It is all for naught.

The Government Accountability Office agreed with ASM that the Veterans Affairs Department didn’t sufficiently consider a possible organizational conflict of interest that Booz Allen Hamilton allegedly has.

Booz Allen won a task order under VA’s T4 contract to build and maintain a cloud environment for development of mobile and web-based medical applications that would be used by clinicians and patients.

ASM claims that Booz Allen has a conflict because it already also holds two contracts for evaluating the apps. So if an app isn’t performing, it would be up to Booz Allen to determine whether the problem was with the third party developer or with the cloud environment Booz Allen built.

ASM, now part of Accenture, argued this was an organizational conflict of interest, or OCI, that wasn’t properly evaluated by VA.

GAO agreed, but stopped short of ruling that there actually is an OCI issue. GAO said there is enough evidence that warrants further investigation.

In its decision, GAO recommends that VA take a second look at the possible conflict, and if it finds that an OCI exists, that it either ask Booz Allen for a mitigation plan or ask for an OCI waiver.

GAO also wants VA to reimburse ASM for its expenses.

But what probably stings for ASM is that GAO isn’t asking VA to reconsider the contract award to Booz Allen.

After looking at the possible OCI issue, VA could reach the conclusion that a new award evaluation is needed, but frankly, that’s a long shot.

You see, Booz Allen is already working under the contract.

Usually, when a bid protest is filed, GAO issues a stay and stops any work from going forward, but VA exercised its option to override the stay in the “interest of the United States.”

So, Booz Allen has been working on the contract since September. Unless VA now finds the OCI to be egregious and restarts evaluations, which I doubt, then ASM can only claim a moral victory.

Unless, of course, they go to the Court of Federal Claims and that court issues an injunction. All bets are off if that happens.

Neither Booz Allen nor ASM would comment for this story.

GAO would have been within their authority to ask VA to make a new award decision, but with Booz Allen already five months into the project, they probably saw that the ship had already sailed on this one.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 17, 2016 at 9:26 AM

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