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GAO tells Army: brush up on grammar

The Government Accountability Office offered a bit of a grammar lesson to the Army as part of a decision recommending the branch rethink its award of a contract to CACI International.

BAE Systems filed its protest after CACI won a $300 million Army contract last year for intelligence support services in Afghanistan.

In its protest, BAE objected to a weakness the Army found in the company's proposal over work experience and education of 17 employees that would work on the contract. The Army said those 17 did not meet the minimum requirements of the solicitation.

Part of the dispute between the Army and BAE centered on the use of both an “or” and a semicolon.

The minimum education and experience requirement said:

“Associates degree and four years relevant DOD specializing training and two years intelligence analysis experience OR 8 years analytical experience within DOD or equivalent Government agencies; experiences requires former MOS 1N, 35F, 350F, 18F, 35D, 34A or equivalent.” [MOS is an acronym for military occupational specialties.]

BAE argued that the OR (which according to GAO was capitalized in the solicitation) means that the Army was offering two separate avenues for meeting the minimum requirement. A candidate could have either an associate’s degree and four years of experience, or the candidate could have eight years of relevant MOS experience.

The Army countered that the placement of the semicolon meant that the MOS experience was a requirement for both.

BAE received an overall "Outstanding"  rating despite the dispute, so GAO didn't rule on who had the right interpretation because in either case there wasn't a negative impact on BAE.

However, GAO suggested that the Army “may wish to revise or clarify the minimum experience requirements.”

BAE won the protest because it successfully argued that the Army didn’t properly evaluate CACI’s proposal. GAO said the Army should have found areas in CACI’s proposal that were lacking and particularly around its staffing plans.

GAO wants the Army conduct discussions with bidders and re-evaluate proposals before making a new best-value tradeoff analysis.

CACI can of course still win the contract after this process. But BAE has at least won a another shot at the award.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 15, 2018 at 1:39 PM

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