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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

What bid protests can tell us about the competitive landscape

One of the things I enjoy about tracking bid protests is what they reveal about the competitive landscape.

You get to see which companies compete against each other for particular contracts.

NTT Data’s protest of a Federal Emergency Management Agency award that went to BAE Systems is the latest example. I don’t pit those two companies against each other.

BAE is of course a large defense player. I think of them as supporting the IT around big platform and advanced vehicles. NTT Data is the U.S. business of the Japan-based telecom giant. The U.S. branch includes parts of Keane, and of course the old Perot Systems business acquired from Dell. So they are an IT services provider.

Yet here, BAE and NTT are going head-to-head over a $300 million contract for operation and maintenance support of FEMA’s IT systems.

One might think that NTT Data would have the advantage with this being an IT services contract. But BAE won the work and now NTT Data has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office.

NTT Data also had to know they were in an uphill fight. They filed a pre-award protest in January after being eliminated from the competitive range. The company argued that the evaluation was unreasonable and they should have been rated higher. A higher rating would have kept them in the competition.

FEMA relented (after reopening following the January government shutdown) and allowed NTT Data back into the competition. GAO then dismissed the protest.

The final award went to BAE on Sept. 30. NTT Data has now gone back to GAO arguing that the evaluation was done improperly and that the company would have won if bids were evaluated properly.

NTT Data filed the current protest Oct. 21 and a GAO decision is due Jan. 29.

Both BAE and NTT Data are incumbents on the original contract. This work was part of the FEMA COMMITS multiple-award contract vehicle held by BAE, NTT, Science Applications International Corp. and Unisys.

This time around, FEMA has consolidated work under COMMITS and some other contracts into a single award. The Federal Procurement Data System says there were 10 bidders. Other protests could be in the works but we’ll have to wait and see.

According to Deltek, BAE had the most work, capturing 72 percent of the task orders under COMMITS, followed by NTT Data with 16 percent. SAIC had less than 3 percent, and Unisys less than 1 percent of the task orders. Obviously, I had the wrong impression of BAE’s IT work.

This new contract includes five functional areas: program management, IT operations and maintenance, telecommunications operations and maintenance, help desk and networking operating services.

FEMA wants the contract to support efforts to modernize its IT operations.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 24, 2019 at 10:01 AM


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