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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

CSRA drops protest fight with CACI

The long running battle between CACI International and the company now known as CSRA Inc. for a $100 million Agriculture Department contract has quickly come to an end with CSRA withdrawing their protest.

What makes this noteworthy is that CSRA earned one protest victory when the Government Accountability Office ruled in its favor after CACI first won the contract in late 2014.

SRA, which later became CSRA through a merger with the public sector business of Computer Sciences Corp., was the incumbent on the contract to build and maintain a web-based supply chain management system for Agriculture.

As the incumbent, CSRA filed a protest claiming the agency engaged in unequal discussions, which favored CACI.

GAO agreed and in April 2015 recommended that Agriculture take a second look at its decision, reopen discussions with bidders, get revised proposals and make a new award.

The victory for CSRA was short-lived because for a second time CACI won the contract, and CSRA again objected.

The protest was filed in December and seemed to be headed toward a decision, which was due on April 6, but on March 1, CSRA informed GAO that it was withdrawing the protest.

Spokesman for CSRA and CACI declined to comment.

But here is the most likely scenario – CSRA saw the handwriting on the wall and knew it wasn’t going to win and pulled out rather than waste time and resources of its own or GAO’s.

With a bid protest, companies file their protest and agencies have 30 days to respond. If the agency is going to take a corrective action, it almost always happens during that 30-day window.

In this case, the agency responded and CSRA filed an amendment to its protest in early February. The Agriculture Department likely responded to that as well.

By this point, CSRA probably saw the entire evaluation record of the agency’s decision to pick CACI and couldn’t find a flaw to attack or at least something it reasonably felt it could use to convince GAO that the wrong decision had been made.

While CSRA probably believes they would be the better choice, they also realized their chances of success through the protest were slim.

A contributing factor could be perception and reputation. Most of the larger companies in the market, including CSRA and CACI, are involved in a lot of protests and the last thing they want is a reputation of wasting GAO time. It doesn’t make for a good working relationship.

So, CSRA probably saw that the battle was lost and pulled out. Discretion is the better part of valor, I guess.

With the withdrawal, the award to CACI stands and the transition from CSRA to SRA can begin.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 07, 2016 at 9:29 AM

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