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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Identical resumes in multiple proposals sparks bid protest

Re-badging is a common occurrence in the federal market. For the rank-and-file contractor employee, their loyalty often is more toward their government customer than the company cutting their paychecks.

So, when an incumbent contractor loses the work, they often switch to the new contractor. The company name on their badge changes, hence the rebadging.

It seems like a reasonable and logical thing to do, but there might be a dark side.

Serco Inc. has a filed a pre-award protest involving a contract they are an incumbent on to support the transition centers in South Korea that provide services to military personnel and their families coming into the country.

Serco has held the contract since at least 2011.

Apparently, at least one company competing with Serco included the resumes of Serco employees in its proposal. In other words, a Serco competitor is saying that if they win, they’ll be using the same personnel Serco has in place supporting the Army.

This isn’t entirely uncommon approach because often the employees want to keep working for the customer. As I said, they feel more loyalty to the government customer than their employers. Usually, the resumes are included in more than one proposal with the permission of the employee.

And that apparently is the question in Serco’s protest – Did their competitor have permission from the Serco employees to use their resumes?

Serco is alleging that the resumes were used without permission, according to a source. Serco officials and their attorney declined to comment.

A couple scenarios might be in play here.

If the resumes were used without permission, the competing bidders face the risk of being disqualified and I would expect the agency to take a corrective action, which would lead GAO to dismiss the protest.

But if the resumes were used with permission, then I’d expect Serco to withdraw their protest.

If it isn’t clear whether permission was granted or not, then the dispute will go through the entire GAO bid protest process. Serco filed its protest on Aug. 15, so a decision is due Nov. 23.

A question I can’t get answered is how Serco learned that its people’s resumes were in a competitor’s proposal.

My source didn’t know, but I can speculate that as Army was looking at the proposals, they noticed common names in the proposals and reached out to the companies.

However Serco learned of the situation, it had to have come as a surprise.

But whatever the circumstances and the outcome, the lessons for managers is that when recompete time comes along, talk to your people, especially the ones who live at the customer site and work shoulder to shoulder with government employees.

You probably can’t stop them from sharing their resume with a competitor, but you probably want to know if they do.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 19, 2016 at 9:27 AM

Reader Comments

Mon, Aug 22, 2016 Mike Stephens

This is why all procurements should require Letters of Intent for all contingent hires. It makes it clear that the companies had permission to use the resumes and the candidates were aware of the salary/position they were being proposed into... I see this requirement in many RFPs and it protects the government from dealing with these types of issues. This requirement should really be standard practice...

Mon, Aug 22, 2016 Joe Boltersdorf Reston, VA

As you stated, rebadging is common among contractors. That said, treating your employees with respect and the same loyalty expected of them, will go much further than threatening to fire them if they share their resumes with competitors during bids. Loyalty must be reciprocal. If employees feel their company values them as a person and human capital asset, they'll be much less likely to share their resumes during recompetes. If they feel like an expendable commodity, then companies shouldn't be surprised when their employees accept contingent offers from competitors.

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