Inside the rejection of Booz Allen's $1.4B DHA protest

Gettyimages.com/Witthaya Prasongsin

A significant price gap existed between Booz Allen and the field, but the company was eliminated so early on that the difference didn't matter.

Booz Allen Hamilton never got to the source selection round of a $1.4 billion Defense Health Agency contract after DHA determined early on the company would not get chosen for an award.

The company was one of several bidders on DHA's Workforce 3.0 vehicle to modernize how the agency develops health technology solutions. After not getting selected, Booz Allen filed a protest challenging several aspects of how DHA evaluated proposals.

We reported in May that the Government Accountability Office had denied the protest and decision was unsealed Monday.

GAO's 13-page ruling details how DHA had five evaluation factors for the competition -- a gate criteria bidders had to pass, the transformation approach; behavior model; price; and a challenge scenario.

Booz Allen’s protest primarily focuses on the challenge scenario. DHA found the Booz Allen proposal to be unacceptable on the basis of having one strength, one weakness, and four significant weaknesses.

One main problem DHA found in Booz Allen's proposal was in a video the company presented, which the agency said contained information that was illegible.

The company also failed to show that it could bring on subject matter experts as they were needed. DHA felt that Booz Allen didn’t understand the agency and created an unacceptable risk because of that.

Passing the challenge scenario was critical for all competitors to qualify for the best-value source selection process. Booz Allen failed the challenge scenario, so DHA considered them ineligible for an award and eliminated the company before the source selection process started.

That’s why GAO's decision only includes Booz Allen’s price in a chart with no analysis or discussion anywhere else.

The price is notable because of how low it is compared to the rest. Booz Allen bid $179.7 million and the next-lowest is from Deloitte, which submitted a $584.3 million price.

If Booz Allen had made it to the source selection process, price would have been a factor.

We'll obviously never know if the low price would have been a positive or negative for Booz Allen. But you have to think that DHA would ask about the price gap during a best-value evaluation that never happened.

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