How and why Jacobs lost a $2.8B incumbent contract

A newly-released bid protest decision describes one significant mistake by Jacobs, but also includes allegations of information being shared because the business unit involved is part of a complex merger.

One error in its oral presentation put the Jacobs Technology business unit on a path that ultimately saw it lose an incumbent contract with the Special Operations Command worth up to $2.8 billion.

SOCOM originally rejected Jacobs proposal for the Special Operations Forces IT Enterprise Contract because the slides with its oral presentation contained classified information, according to a now-unsealed Government Accountability Office decision.

Jacobs then filed a protest in August, after which SOCOM relented and took a corrective action that let the company resubmit that slides and get back into the competition.

But the command told Jacobs it could only update the slides and nothing else.

This became a problem because when Jacobs was initially rejected, one of its key personnel in the proposal left the company. Jacobs asked SOCOM if it could update the key personnel, but the command said no.

The problem was compounded when SOCOM gave Jacobs a deficiency for key personnel because the person in the proposal was no longer available.

When Peraton won the competition in November to provide enterprise IT services to SOCOM, Jacobs protested again and the key personnel evaluation was one of the issues the company raised.

Jacobs also raised another issue that should, at the very least, raise some questions across the government market.

Separate from the pursuit of this contract, Jacobs made the decision to spin out the Jacobs Technology business unit that held this contract.

Amentum ultimately agreed to a complex merger with that business and other units of Jacobs, a move that is still pending.

GAO's decision indicates that during Jacobs' process to find a transaction partner, Peraton's private equity owner Veritas Capital considered acquiring the business and conducted due diligence activities that result in access to certain information.

Jacobs alleges that Veritas then shared that information with Peraton. The allegation was sent to SOCOM via an anonymous letter that supposedly came from an unhappy Peraton employee, according to the decision.

Jacobs claimed that was a violation of the Procurement Integrity Act and that SOCOM failed to fully investigate that. But the command argued that a violation of the PIA needs a “government nexus.” In other words, some improper action by the government.

No action by the government is alleged so this is a “dispute between private parties that is not for our consideration,” GAO said.

There also is a question of the timing of the anonymous letter. It was received by SOCOM after the award decision had been made. There is no evidence that the SOCOM contracting officer should have been aware of the allegations at the time he made the award.

GAO has sole authority over task order protests. So because this contract is a task order under the Alliant 2 vehicle, Jacobs cannot take its case anywhere else.