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Nick Wakeman

Personnel change kills Chenega bid

I can only imagine the frustration the folks over at Chenega Healthcare Services felt when they lost an Energy Department contract.

They were the incumbent after all and their price on their bid was lower than the winner Kupono Government Services.

But DOE rejected Chenega’s bid as non-compliant and the Government Accountability Office upheld the department’s decision.

Here’s why I find this one a bit of a head-scratcher.

Chenega submitted its proposal to support the National Training Center at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico. But the company’s general manager couldn’t continue to do the work for “personal and medical reasons,” according to the GAO decision.

The company replaced him and DOE approved of his replacement.

Because the general manager position was a critical one for the proposal, Chenega also informed two contracting officers of their intent to propose the substitute manager for the follow-on contract.

After all, he was now doing the work and the department had accepted him as the general manager for the ongoing work.

A DOE contracting specialist asked Chenega whether the commitment letter from the first general manager in its proposal was still valid and the company said said "No."

Chenega’s technical evaluation received strong marks but was found deficient because the general manager in the proposal was no longer available.

This meant that Chenega’s proposal would no longer be considered for an award.

And just like that, they lost an incumbent contract.

They argued that the Energy Department is required to consider the substitute, who after all had been approved by the agency. But GAO said there is no such requirement.

Chenega did the right thing in letting the Energy Department know that a key part of its proposal was no longer valid. And apparently the department had two choices -- accept the substitute or not. And in this case, it decided not to accept the substitute.

GAO ruled that the department acted reasonably given the requirements and the language in the solicitation.

Maybe they acted reasonably but this seems unfair to me. Why is it such a big deal to not consider the change?

I reached out to Chenega’s legal team but have not received a response.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 25, 2018 at 12:49 PM

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