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Nick Wakeman

NCI wins, then loses bid protest

NCI’s AdvancedMed unit has lost a second protest over a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services contract.

The company has been involved in three bid protests with CMS and prevailed in one of those when it was sustained.

But two protests involving contracts won by Health Integrity LLC of Eason, Md. were denied by the Government Accountability Office.

They have competed against each other for spots on the Unified Program Integrity Contracts known as UPIC. CMS has UPIC contracts for different regions of the country. The contracts support CMS’ efforts to fight fraud, waste and abuse.

Health Integrity has won contracts for the Southwestern and Western jurisdictions. NCI protested both of those awards.

The latest protest involves the Western jurisdiction and NCI has actually protested the award twice. It prevailed in the first protest but a sustained protest is no guarantee of ultimate victory.

GAO told CMS to conduct a new cost realism evaluation and make a new source selection decision.

CMS did that and again awarded the contract to Health Integrity. And again, NCI filed a protest objecting to the cost realism evaluation.

Health Integrity bid a price of $85.8 million and NCI bid $106.4 million. NCI did have a higher overall technical score with a "Very Good," compared to Health Integrity’s "Satisfactory."

NCI argued that CMS did not conduct a cost realism evaluation that addressed the concerns raised in the firm's first protest. The main area of contention involves the number of people Health Integrity proposed for the work on the contract.

But after the first protest decision, CMS conducted a supplemental cost realism evaluation and looked at the number of full-time equivalents proposed and how they would be deployed.

CMS concluded the FTEs and the proposed work hours were adequate.

Because CMS documented its analysis this time, GAO supported the agency's choice of Health Integrity.

The big lesson here is that NCI won a protest but still did not win the contract.

It is another risk factor to weigh when deciding to protest. You might win the battle and still lose the war.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 01, 2018 at 11:29 AM

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