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Nick Wakeman

Encore III protester deemed too late by GAO

My dad often used the cliche expression that goes like this: “A day late, a dollar short and on the wrong road home.”

In many ways, that expression applies to the Government Accountability Office’s dismissal of a protest by Planned Systems International over its rejection for the Defense Information Systems Agency's $17.5 billion Encore III contact.

Planned Systems was among several companies that filed protests after DISA made their 20 awards for the contract. The others were denied by GAO, but Planned Systems protest earned a written dismissal.

And there lies the lesson.

GAO said it dismissed the company’s protest because it was too late to raise concerns about the solicitation. (This is where dad’s dollar short joke comes in.)

Several of the points that Planned Systems objected to should have been raised in a protest after the solicitation was made and not after awards.

For example, Planned Systems said that the problem statement in the solicitation was “very complex” and the evaluation failed to consider the complexity of the subfactors. But the company didn’t challenge how the evaluation was conducted, only that the plan for the evaluation was flawed.

“The protester does not assert that the agency failed to follow the detailed cost evaluation process that was set forth in the RFP,” GAO wrote.

Planned Systems' objection to the evaluation plan should have been apparent when the solicitation was released. “A protest on this ground was required to be filed prior to the submission of proposals,” GAO said.

Encore III was a lowest price, technically acceptable competition and DISA said it would make 20 awards. Planned Systems said 30 awards should have been made.

And here, I have to agree somewhat with Planned Systems because the wording of the solicitation is a little fuzzy.

In one place it appears clear that DISA plans to make 20 awards, but DISA also speaks about a competitive range of 30 proposals.

But here again, the ambiguity should have been apparent to Planned Systems and it should have filed a protest before proposals were due.

They were another day short.

The lesson: if there are things in the solicitation you don’t agree with or don’t understand or wonder if you are interpreting it correctly, raise the issue as soon as possible. It could be a protest or it could be asking the agency for a clarification.

But get on the record with your questions before proposals are due. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself on the outside looking in.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 24, 2018 at 12:44 PM

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