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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Lack of specifics wiped out Perspecta's student loan bid

Perspecta missed its shot at a position on a $1.7 billion Education Department contract to support student loan operations because the agency said the proposal lacked certain critical specifics.

The findings in a Government Accountability Office decision that denied Perspecta’s protest offer some lessons about the need for specificity in your proposals.

The Next Generation Financial Services Environment contract's solicitation asked bidders to explain how they would assure compliance with consumer protection laws. Perspecta’s approach was scored as an "Unacceptable Risk" by the Education Department.

The government said Perspecta failed to describe a process for compliance with these laws. In Perspecta's protest, the company argued it explained how it would comply. Those details are unfortunately redacted from GAO’s decision.

Perspecta also said that while its proposal “does not specifically identify each and every law (such as the various federal consumer protection laws) that its compliance plan addresses," that bid "in no way qualifies its plan to exclude federal consumer protection laws.”

It sounds like Perspecta explained how it will comply with a broad group of federal laws but it didn’t break out specifically the federal consumer protection laws.

GAO said Perspecta should have specifically addressed that because the solicitation said such. The Education Department said it included the requirement because a congressional mandate requires it to hold its contractors accountable for compliance with consumer protection laws, according to GAO.

Lesson: if a solicitation specifically calls out a requirement, you should address it specifically.

The lack of specificity for compliance with consumer protection laws and a rating of "Unacceptable Risk" for security, led the Education Department to rate Perspecta’s technical approach as "Unacceptable."

Perspecta earned "Low Risk" ratings in the other parts of the technical approach of staffing, key personnel, and quality control. Meanwhile, the company’s past performance earned a "Substantial Confidence" score and its small business subcontracting was rated "Satisfactory."

Awards ended up going to Maximus, Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp., Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, EdFinancial Services and F.H. Cann & Associates.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 16, 2020 at 9:33 AM

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