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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Justice continues its struggles with $4.5B IT contract

The Justice Department continues in its struggles to make large business awards for its $4.5 billion IT Support Services 5 vehicle.

This time around, the Government Accountability Office is sending the department back to redo its best-value determinations because they were “unreasonable and prejudicial” to Qbase LLC, Perspecta and Northrop Grumman.

Northrop also won a second recommendation that its proposal be re-evaluated.

Justice will have to conduct a new best value-tradeoff and make new award decisions involving all of the bidders including the six winners -- Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI International, General Dynamics IT, NTT Data, Dovel Technologies and MetroStar.

The large business portion of ITSS V has had an up-and-down journey since the first five awards in January to Booz Allen, CACI, GDIT, NTT Data and Dovel. Protests followed with Perspecta losing their case but MetroStar winning theirs, which called for a re-evaluation of bids.

GAO issued new awards and MetroStar earned a spot. Perspecta, Qbase LLC and Northrop Grumman were not chosen andall filed protests. This was in early August.

GAO rejected two arguments the companies made involving unequal discussions and uneven treatment where one of the winning bidders didn’t provide enough past performance references.

But GAO agreed with them that there were problems with our Justice performed its best-value evaluation.

The Justice Department conducted what GAO called a “mechanical” tradeoff by not meaningfully considering price.

Justice didn’t document and show the rationale for a higher-rated proposal was “in fact, superior,” and why its "technical superiority warrants paying a price premium,” GAO wrote.

What Justice did instead was rank the bidders by who had the best combination of adjectival ratings under the non-price factors. Justice grouped the bidders that way and then went down the line until there was a break in the proposals and that is where they stopped making awards.

“The agency failed to discuss the qualitative differences between the proposals,” GAO wrote.

This really stood out with the denial of an award to Perspecta, which had the same overall rating as MetroStar and a lower price. But because of how Justice grouped the proposals and failed to consider pricing, Perspecta didn’t get an award.

“Without any consideration of the underlying differences between the technical proposals or price, Perspecta was not recommended for award because its proposal was not assigned the necessary combination of adjectival ratings,” GAO wrote.

GAO's recommendation says Justice needs to re-evaluate Northrop’s proposal for phase two, then conduct and document a new best-value trade-off analysis.

The small business side of ITSS 5 continues on as those awards were completed in April 2018.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 20, 2020 at 1:35 PM

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