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Third time not a charm for NTT Data

NTT Data probably went into its third protest involving the recompete of its EDUCATE contract with the Education Department with high hopes. After all, two earlier protests had netted positive results.

But not with the third one. This time the Government Accountability Office ruled against them. GAO made its decision in October but only released a public version of its decision this week.

All three protests, the first of which was filed in the spring of 2017, involved organizational conflicts of interest of its competitor, the former SRA International (now part of General Dynamics IT).

The OCI issued involved an employee of subcontractor who had worked for another company that did independent verification and validation work of NTT Data’s EDUCATE contract. Through that work he had access to NTT Data’s proposal on a 2015 recompete of EDUCATE.

In the first protest, GAO found that the Education Department hadn’t looked at the OCI issue. After that decision, the agency did look at the OCI issues and found that they weren’t a significant concern and awarded the $260 million contract to GDIT again.

NTT Data (known as Dell Federal Services when all of this started) filed a second protest and GAO again told Education to more fully address the OCIs and determine if a waiver was appropriate. That decision came out in June 2018.

But it was just a few short weeks later that the Education Department again awarded the contract to GDIT, and NTT Data filed a this protest in July.

Before the third award to GDIT, the Education Department issued a written waiver addressing the OCI concerns and this written document seems to be the difference maker for GAO.

As we’ve often seen, GAO likes it when agencies have documented their reason for taking a particular action as long as it follows the law and regulation.

In this case, the department did.

While the Education Department acknowledged that the subcontractor employee had proprietary information on NTT Data, the information was from the 2015 proposal. The department said that the recompete, known as Pivot was so different that the proprietary information didn’t make a difference.

The department is taking a different approach with the EDUCATE recompete and has broken the contract up into several contracts collectively known as PIVOT. NTT Data and GDIT were competing against each other for Pivot 1 which covers IT services. Other Pivot contracts cover services such as hosting and application development.

GAO also dismissed another part of NTT Data’s protest which involved GDIT's acquisition of CSRA, which is how GDIT picked up this pursuit.

SRA was the original bidder for the work, then merged with the North American public sector business of Computer Sciences Corp. to for CSRA in 2015. CSRA was then acquired by General Dynamics earlier this year.

NTT Data argued that the Education Department failed to look at the impact of the transactions when making its responsibility determination. The department should have tried to determine whether the technical approach bid by SRA/CSRA/GDIT had been affected by the acquisition.

GAO denied that aspect of the protest as well.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 16, 2018 at 5:04 PM

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