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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

High technical scores can't overcome price issues for Lumen

Lumen Technologies apparently had a lot going for it when it bid for a Homeland Security Department cyber contract.

Its technical scores were stellar with all Meets or Exceeds for service availability, scaling approach, technical approach and key personnel, according to a Government Accountability Office protest decision.

In fact, Lumen’s overall technical capability was rated Most Advantageous over its competitor Verizon.

Verizon’s individual technical scores were rated the same as Lumen’s. Both companies were rated High Confidence for their past performance scores.

Lumen was given the Most Advantageous score because of its faster deployment plan, DHS said..

So why didn’t Lumen win the contract? It all came down to price. Lumen's bid to support the Federal Network Protection System was $283.8 million, compared to Verizon’s winning price of $157.6 million.

The source selection authority couldn’t justify an 80-percent premium to pick Lumen (which bid as CenturyLink) over Verizon.

I should note that I wrote about this protest recently after learning Verizon had prevailed, but the details of the GAO decision were not available.

In its protest, Lumen argued Verizon didn’t meet all the requirements and shouldn’t have been eligible for the award. Lumen also challenged Verizon’s technical evaluation. GAO denied both of those arguments, along with the challenge to the best-value tradeoff analysis.

That 80 percent rate is a tough hurdle to overcome especially when your opponent’s technical proposal is also strong.

Lumen argued that its price would have been lower if DHS had explained its migration schedule more fully during discussion. The company argued the solicitation didn’t describe the agency’s real requirement.

But Lumen didn’t indicate any legal support for its assertion, GAO ruled in rejecting that part of the protest.

Ironically for Verizon, the company finds itself on the opposite side of a protest involving DHS and a disparity in pricing.

Verizon company lost its own protest when it bid $442.9 million more than the winning bidder in AT&T for a contract to modernize DHS’ telecommunications infrastructure.

Verizon argued unsuccessfully that the discussions with DHS should have indicated that its price was too high. But GAO rejected Verizon’s claims and the award remained with AT&T.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 03, 2021 at 12:27 PM


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