How SAIC's OCI claims in $192M Army competition fell short

A newly-released bid protest decision details how the Army investigated those claims before it chose Peraton for the award.

Science Application International Corp. laid out several complaints against the Army's choice of Peraton for a $192 million engineering services contract, but none of them swayed the Government Accountability Office.

As we reported in March, among those issues were allegations that Peraton had organizational conflicts of interest that should have disqualified it from the competition

The Army Project Management Office Aircraft Survivability Equipment task order contract covers the development of systems to improve the survivability of Army aircraft, including infrared countermeasures and missile warning systems.

GAO rejected SAIC's OCI claims and complaints about the evaluation, allowing the award to Peraton to go forward.

On Tuesday, GAO released its decision that contains new details about the OCI claim and how the Army investigated those allegations.

One allegation dealt with a contract Peraton holds with the Army at the headquarters level, which SAIC said created an impaired objectivity and conflict of interest. SAIC argued that meant Peraton would be in a position to review its own work.

SAIC also claimed that the Army did nothing to avoid or mitigate the alleged conflict.

But GAO's decision details how the Army investigated the possible conflict and found that Peraton would be able to offer impartial advice at the headquarters level without impacting work at the program level.

The Army told GAO that SAIC’s allegations “stem from a combination of suspicion and a misunderstanding of Army organizational structure and safeguards,” according to the protest decision.

The Army looked for organizational conflicts of interest, both from the headquarters level down and from the program level up, and determined that there would be no conflict. Both awards are for similar work, but the Army determined Peraton will not be evaluating its own work.

SAIC also challenged the technical evaluation of its proposal. The Army found some ambiguities in SAIC's proposal that increased the risk the Army saw in the company's approach.

SAIC argued that these concerns were overstated and didn’t equal a “material failure.”

But GAO said it found nothing in the record of the acquisition to decide it should overturn the Army’s decision.

“It is a vendor’s responsibility to submit a well-written quotation, with adequately detailed information which clearly demonstrates compliance with the solicitation requirements,” GAO said.

The Army found that Peraton’s proposal had a better technical approach and represented a lower risk, which justified going with the higher-priced Peraton bid of $192 million versus SAIC’s at $171.1 million.

For our article in March, an SAIC spokesperson said the company was disappointed in the GAO decision but remains an “ardent supporter” of the Army’s modernization efforts.