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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Unisys fights for, wins $232.5M incumbent contract

Unisys Corp. has faced down challenges to a $232.5 million Agriculture Department win and held onto a long-term incumbent contract.

Unisys originally lost the contract to support the USDA’s Comprehensive Loan Program modernization to SRA in 2015. The loss had to have stung since they had supported the program for 15 years. The loan program supports the department’s Rural Development programs that provide loans for public infrastructure and economic development in rural areas.

Unisys filed its protest in June 2015, and by August of last year, USDA had pulled the award back to take a corrective action, which led the agency to cancel the solicitation and development a new one.

This time around, Unisys won and protests by SRA (now CSRA) and Vistronix quickly followed. They challenged the evaluation of the proposals and the source selection decision.

The evaluation was based on best-value, though USDA said that if there were no significant technical differences, then cost alone might be the deciding factor. And that is what happened.

The scores for the non-price factors between CSRA and Unisys were identical with an overall rating of “Outstanding.” But the price difference was significant with CSRA’s price coming in at $257.8 million compared to Unisys’ $232.5 million bid.

Vistronix had strong scores as well, but received an overall rating of “Good.” It had the lowest price at $231.1 million, but the price difference with Unisys wasn’t enough for the USDA to pick its bid over the higher technically rated Unisys proposal.

Both CSRA and Vistronix complained that Unisys’ past performance was rated too high, particularly for its performance on the incumbent contract. Both companies pointed to USDA’s IT Dashboard and said that Unisys must have experienced schedule and cost problems because they appeared on the dashboard.

But the IT Dashboard is not a valid indicator of a specific contractor’s performance, the agency told GAO.

USDA also argued that Vistronix and CSRA failed to provide any examples of performance problems attributable to Unisys.

GAO agreed: “We find no basis to question the agency’s evaluation of Unisys’s past performance.”

Interestingly, USDA told GAO that they didn’t consider Unisys’ performance on the incumbent contract as part of its evaluation, but if it had, it would not have changed its evaluation.

Vistronix also complained that USDA was wrong to evaluate portions of its proposal as weaknesses. They also claimed that there were unstated evaluation criteria. But GAO ruled that the evaluation criteria was clear.

“We find no basis to question the agency’s judgments in performing the evaluation,” GAO wrote.

With the arguments by Vistronix and CSRA rejected by GAO, Unisys keeps the contract and will add another eight years to the 15 years it has already spent supporting the program.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 03, 2016 at 1:12 PM

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