VA to rethink $300M award decision

The Veterans Affairs Department makes this decision with a bid protest ruling just a few weeks away.

On the brink of a decision by the Government Accountability Office, the Veterans Affairs Department apparently had second thoughts and will reopen the competition for a nearly $300 million task order.

GAO was due to make a ruling in three weeks. But the VA has now told GAO it will pull back the award to DexteriTech Solutions and reopen discussions with all bidders.

This comes after TISTA Science and Technology Corp. and Aptive Resources filed protests in December that raised several questions about the VA’s award decision. Aptive also argued that DexteriTech had an unfair advantage because of other work the latter was doing at the VA.

The VA’s decision is noteworthy given how late in the process it came. GAO has up to 100 days to rule on a protest filing and the VA backed away after nearly 75 days. Most corrective actions take place around the 30-day mark after the agency has reviewed the protest and made a response.

As we see in most instances like these, the VA took a corrective action because it saw little chance of prevailing.

Taking a corrective action gives the agency more flexibility in choosing how it addresses an issue as opposed to having GAO release a set of recommendations. If an agency doesn’t follow GAO’s recommendations, then GAO has to report that to Congress.

In addition to reopening discussions with bidders, the VA said it will update evaluations and give those to the source selection authority to make a new best-value tradeoff decision.

TISTA is the incumbent on the contract to support VA’s financial services center.