Protest denial clears Deloitte to take over TSA human capital support Thitiphat Khuankaew

The Government Accountability Office found that Deloitte took a proactive approach to avoid a conflict-of-interest, which fended off a protest over this $350 million task order.

Large contractors often have multiple contracts at a particular agency, so they easily face competitors' accusations of having an unfair advantage when pursuing a new contract with that customer.

The typical argument goes that a contractor who has work at one agency has an organizational conflict-of-interest because it has insights that challengers might not have.

Such was the accusation Accenture Federal Services leveled against Deloitte as the companies vied for a $350 million contract for human capital services for the Transportation Security Administration.

TSA picked Deloitte in September for the work, which the agency awarded as a task order under the Human Capital and Training Solutions contract vehicle.

Deloitte's work for TSA under a separate task order led it to believe it could face a conflict-of-interest issue. So the firm created a mitigation plan as it began work on its proposal

For example, Deloitte identified and excluded several employees from participating in preparing the proposal. The firm included that mitigation plan in its bid.

After TSA picked Deloitte, Accenture raised the organizational conflict-of-interest issue as one of several objections in its protest. Other points included issues with how TSA evaluated corporate experience and lack of documentation regarding the oral presentations.

TSA took a corrective action to look at the possible OCI, but again awarded the contract to Deloitte. Accenture filed a protest for a second time in December.

On April 12, GAO released its decision to deny Accenture’s objections.

Three points stand out regarding the decision.

First is Deloitte’s decision to be upfront with the possible conflict of interest and put a plan in place ahead of time. TSA used that to conclude that there was no conflict, even after it investigated the issue a second time as part of its corrective action.

Second is Accenture’s complaint of a lack of documentation of the oral presentations. For whatever reason, TSA did not record those sessions and instead had evaluators take contemporaneous notes. TSA turned over 60 pages of notes to GAO. That’s a lot, but I think having recordings is better along with the notes.

The oral presentations hurt Accenture because in that aspect, its score came out lower than Deloitte’s score for corporate experience and technical approach. Accenture scored “Some Confidence” to Deloitte’s “High Confidence.”

Point number three is the pricing. Deloitte’s bid was for $343.4 million compared to Accenture’s $372.2 million. With lower scores and a higher price, it wasn’t a heavy lift for TSA to pick Deloitte. If their scores were the same, Deloitte would likely still win because of that price differential.

In this case, TSA got the bidder with the higher non-price factor scores and a lower price. The best of both worlds.

It is also important to note that TSA consolidated two contracts into one for this human capital support acquisitions.

As you can probably guess: Accenture and Deloitte held those two contracts.

Accenture was responsible for recruitment and hiring services. Deloitte provided personnel action, payroll and benefits services.

Deloitte will now provide all of those services to TSA.

This is also the last stop for Accenture’s protest. GAO has the final say on all task orders under multiple-award vehicles.