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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Best value question at heart of Leidos-DynCorp dispute

The see-saw battle between Leidos and DynCorp International for a logistics contract supporting Army helicopters is entering a new phase.

First, Leidos won the contract with a bid of $641.6 million. DynCorp then protested twice and after two corrective actions, the Army awarded the contract to DynCorp at a bid of $460 million.

Then of course, Leidos filed its own protest. Now, the Government Accountability Office has sided with Leidos and is recommending the Army get new proposals, conduct a new evaluation and make a new award decision.

The contract supports the Army’s MD530F helicopter fleet in Afghanistan. It was competed as a task order under the Worldwide Logistics Support Services contract vehicle as a best value award.

The two different awards for this work illustrate just how subjective the concept of best value can be.

First, there is the price difference. In round one, the source selection authority thought that Leidos’ proposal justified the higher cost. But in round two, a different source selection authority thought the higher price wasn’t justified.

Along the way there also was a debate about DynCorp’s contentious relationship with helicopter manufacturer, MD Helicopters Inc., which raised questions about DynCorp’s ability to reach back to the manufacturer.

Portions of the GAO decision are redacted, but DynCorp and MDHI were involved in a court battle because MDHI had terminated DynCorp as a subcontractor. The dispute has been settled but MDHI claimed DynCorp overbilled.

In its protest, Leidos argued the Army didn’t comply with provisions of the solicitation in the way it communicated with bidders and the way it conducted the evaluation.

The best value evaluation was based on four factors: Afghan capability, mobilization, return-to-service scenarios and price. Non-price factors were more important than price. The Army brought bidders in for 2.5 hour oral presentations, which were videotaped.

The Army re-evaluated proposals after DynCorp's protest, but supposedly looked at the recorded oral presentation again and decided not to consider the question-and-answer portions. The Army also had separate discussions with DynCorp, but claimed to GAO that Leidos was not hurt by those discussions and that the Army didn’t consider information from the Q&A sessions for any bidder.

When GAO learned all of this, they asked to see recordings. GAO asked a second time and that is when the Army told them the recordings were not available because the sessions “were erased due to an unintentional technical oversight.”

Once this came to light, the Army admitted that the second review team didn’t look at the recordings but merely read the summaries in drawing the conclusion that the Q&A sessions weren’t relevant.

Without the recordings, there was no way to determine whether there was a competitive prejudice against Leidos. That left GAO no real alternative other than to rule in Leidos’ favor and recommend that the Army ask for new proposals.

The destroyed recording apparently irked GAO because the decision mentions that several times and returns to the issue in the recommendation.

“In light of the agency’s erasure of the video recordings… re-evaluation of proposals is not possible,” GAO wrote.

So it is back to the beginning -- new proposals, a new evaluation and a new award. And maybe a new protest.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on May 19, 2020 at 12:49 PM

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