CACI International claims it did not have a chance to fully defend itself against conflict-of-interest allegations and otherwise would have stayed eligible for a $7.9 billion Army hardware contract.
A newly-unsealed complaint filed by CACI International offers more details about the organizational conflicts of interest claims lodged against the company and its defense against those allegations regarding a $7.9 billion Army hardware contract.
We’ve previously reported that CACI was excluded from the Common Hardware Systems-6 competition because the company retained a former Army official as a consultant.
That unnamed official was the former chair of the source selection advisory council on CHS-5, and a product lead on CHS-3 and CHS-4.
After the Government Accountability Office rejected CACI’s protest in February, the company turned to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. CACI’s complaint was sealed at first, but a redacted version was made public on Friday. The 54-page document is lightly-redacted, mostly the name of the former Army official is blacked out.
CACI is focusing on two main issues in its complaint: how long the Army took to examine at this issue, and how long the company claims it was left in the dark about the Army’s concerns.
CACI was active in pre-solicitation activities such as meeting with the Army in October 2021, which included the former official that retired from the service branch in 2019.
While the meeting included his former Army colleagues, no one raised any objections at the time. Six months later, the Army made what CACI describes as a “generic inquiry.” That former official stopped working with CACI three months before the inquiry.
“The contracting officer did not raise any specific hard facts or concerns,” CACI's complaint says.
CACI claims it responded with specific evidence that it had not been provided any prohibited information and the former official was excluded from discussions regarding pricing. The former official also was not involved in preparation of CACI’s proposal.
CACI argued that that CHS-6 was very different from CHS-5, so the former official’s knowledge would not be useful. The company said it brought him in primarily to provide insights on how the Army works on its command-and-control procurements.
The Army released the solicitation for CHS-6 approximately six months later.
On Aug. 24, 2022 -- the Army contracting officer responsible for the procurement sent the company a three-page “preliminary determination” that conveyed his intent to exclude CACI from the competition.
This response from CACI followed on Sept. as written in its complaint: “no unfair competitive advantage was obtained from the company’s affiliation” with the former Army official. CACI also claims it submitted evidence to defend itself.
The contracting officer excluded CACI from the competition on Oct. 7 because the company had retained the Army official as a consultant.
CACI calls that Oct. 7 notice (also three pages), a “skeletal” determination that was “devoid of hard facts and has not supporting documentation.”
When CACI filed its protest to GAO after that notice, the Army provided a 25-page explanation of its final exclusion determination.
The Army said there was no way for CACI to mitigate what the branch said was an unfair competitive advantage.
CACI claims the Army conclusion was based “solely on the result of the contracting officer’s unreasonably delayed investigation, his withholding of material information, and his total lack of substantive communication with CACI.”
CACI's complaint to the court also takes aim at the incumbent on the CHS 5 contract in General Dynamics' mission systems business unit. CACI claims the Army only started to look at the OCI issue after GDMS raised it, and even then the Army did nothing for several months.
CACI wants the court to order the Army to allow the company back into the competition that would include allowing for participation in the Q&A process, engage in discussions and submit a revised proposal if necessary. The Army also must evaluate CACI's proposal.
CACI also wants to be reimbursed for its bid preparation and proposal costs.
It is important to note that CACI’s complaint only presents the company’s side of the story as the Army will respond. The federal judge overseeing the case will take a few more months to make a ruling.