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GAO report hightlights altered documents in DHS FLASH debacle

Generally, the Government Accountability Office doesn’t comment when agencies cancel a contract or take a corrective action involving a bid protest. GAO just dismisses the protest and move on.

But the actions of the Homeland Security Department around its $1.5 billion FLASH contract are so out of the ordinary that GAO issued a report on the now-cancelled contract.

FLASH was to be a small business contract for a variety of Agile development and other DevOp services. It has been mired in protests since DHS first made awards in November.

But it was after the second attempt to make awards and another set of protests that the underlying problems with how the procurement was conducted surfaced.

We reported earlier that DHS sent a letter to GAO asking that the protests be dismissed because DHS was cancelling FLASH.

Among several problems described in the DHS letter, there is one that is particularly egregious – evaluation documents were changed after awards were made, but the documents were presented to GAO as the record at the time of award.

While DHS mentions this in its letter, GAO went into greater detail in its report and describes how DHS procurement officials created a multi-page table and several memoranda regarding the price realism evaluation methodology and findings and inserted them as if they were the record at the time of award.

A source told me that one of the protesting companies discovered this when looking at the agency report DHS filed with GAO in response to the protests. The company noticed meta data in the document that indicated the document had been changed after awards were made.

When GAO learned of the altered documents, it sent a notice to DHS and the protesting companies on May 25 scheduling a hearing for May 31. But on May 26, DHS told GAO that it was planning to cancel the contract.

While the altered documents are the most serious problem – any non-lawyer would likely describe it as fraud – there were plenty of other problems with this procurement. So FLASH was in trouble even without the altered documents.

How did this happen? One source said he thought DHS rushed the entire procurement. Maybe but that’s not a great excuse.

I’ve reached out to DHS for comment because I can’t help but think there has to be repercussions for this kind of thing. Was anyone fired or suspended? Anyone transferred? Anyone ordered to take more training or other remedial actions?

I’ll see if I can’t get any answers. But this is a real ugly mark on DHS

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 12, 2017 at 11:37 AM

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