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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Tech trumped price in Booz Allen's $1B VA win

Booz Allen Hamilton’s price was higher but the firm also had the highest technical scores, and that in a nutshell is why the company won a nearly $1 billion IT modernization contract from the Veterans Affairs Department.

We reported earlier that Booz Allen overcame the challenges by several disappointed bidders on the task order. Now that the Government Accountability Office has released its decision, we have more details on bids and why VA picked Booz Allen.

A first one is the significant difference between Booz Allen’s evaluated price of $999.9 million compared to the next highest bid of $859.7 million from Accenture.

Accenture, General Dynamics IT (called SRA in the protest documents) and Cognosante all filed protests when VA picked Booz Allen. There were six total bidders including those four.

GDIT had the lowest price among six bidders at a $741.4 million. Cognosante's evaluated price was $793.9 million. The two other bidders did not protest and are not named in the documents, but had evaluated prices of $776.3 million and $815.6 million.

While Booz Allen’s price was higher than the rest, its technical score also was higher. The firm nabbed a rating of “Outstanding” compared to “Acceptable” for all the other bidders.

The one area where Booz Allen didn’t lead the pack was its past performance rating, which was in the bottom half of the six bidders. But its score was higher than Accenture’s and GDIT’s score. Cognosante had the highest past performance rating.

Here is where the terms of the solicitation become important. The VA said it was going to make a best value determination in picking a winner.

For VA, the technical score carried the most weight, followed by past performance. Price this time was the least important factor. Given that mix of priorities, the agency determined that paying the premium for Booz Allen was justified.

The protesters argued that that the evaluations were flawed as was the price evaluation. GAO rejected those arguments because the VA adhered to the solicitation. The protesters also argued that the VA should have gone deeper into past performance scores, including how past performance changes over time. But GAO again ruled the VA followed the process it described in the solicitation

“Although the protesters disagree with the agency’s decision to pay this premium, the decision itself is adequately justified and documented,” GAO wrote.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 11, 2019 at 10:01 AM

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