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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

DHS ITOSS contract struggles to shed protest problems

The lengthy protest history of the Homeland Security Department’s IT Operations Support Services contract might be nearing an end, but it is really hard to tell as it technically remains unawarded even after more than one try by DHS.

Known as ITOSS, the contract is a $200 million small business procurement to support field operations for the office of DHS' chief information officer.

The contract is a task order under the DHS EAGLE II vehicle. ITOSS went to Inerso on Jan. 31 and the award was quickly followed by multiple protests from companies such as 360 IT Integrated Solutions, VariQ Corp. and Ace Info Solutions.

The Government Accountability Office ruled in favor of all three protesters in separate decisions. After the GAO decision, DHS went back to Inerso and had them correct a problem with a resume for a team leader in their proposal.

After Inerso revised its bid, DHS again made an award to the company on June 14. Of course, that award set off another round of protests.

But that time, DHS reacted quickly and pulled back Inerso’s award and reopened discussions with the bidders.

360 ITIS, VariQ, Ace Info and Innovative Solutions all then filed protests arguing that DHS wasn’t addressing GAO’s recommendations.

In late July, DHS revised its plan. But 360 ITIS and VariQ filed more protests contending that DHS’ plan was too broad.

Both companies argued that discussions were inconsistent and didn’t address the evaluation criteria. The discussions didn’t seem to address problems in the procurement, ands VariQ called the discussions “contrived.”

But in GAO's most recent ITOSS ruling on Oct. 15, it has now denied all challenges to those discussions because a new award hasn’t been made yet. A protest involving discussions should only be raised after an award, so the protest is premature.

That part of the decision is what makes me think we haven’t seen the end of the ITOSS protests. So don’t be surprised if one or both of these companies or another bidder raises objections to how DHS conducted its discussions. But that kind of protest will only come after an award.

The multiple rounds of protests seem a bit dizzying to me. So far there have been 28 protest filings by five companies.

Two by 360 ITIS and Ace Info Solutions are requesting reimbursement for their protest cost. That kind of protest won’t interfere with DHS’ ability to make an award.

Look for something by the end of the year. But then look for more protests shortly thereafter.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 01, 2018 at 9:47 AM

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