GSA faces another protest on HSPD-12

For the second time in less than a year, vendors find flaws in the award process

The General Services Administration once again must defend a contract award it made to a vendor to operate an office GSA set up to help federal agencies comply with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

In separate claims, two small companies allege that GSA’s $66.4 million award to EDS in March was inappropriate, according to documents filed with the Government Accountability Office. Both companies, XTec and Computer Literacy World, submitted protests May 1 to GAO and requested that GSA stop work on the contract, according to the filings, which are redacted.

If the contract stands, EDS, through GSA’s HSPD-12 Managed Services Office, would help 42 agencies issue about 450,000 Personal Identity Verification II cards in the next 17 months at 225 fixed and mobile enrollment stations nationwide. However, protests could jeopardize that schedule. GAO has until Aug. 9 to rule on the protests.

“It is GSA’s policy not to comment on matters that are in litigation,” said GSA spokeswoman Diane Merriett.

EDS’ award replaces an earlier $104 million contract that GSA awarded to BearingPoint in August 2006. Three companies protested the BearingPoint contract, and industry sources said GSA recompeted the contract because the government would have lost the disputes XTec, EDS and Lockheed Martin filed.

Industry observers say the protest of the BearingPoint award and a delay in developing and awarding the new contract have stalled momentum on the HSPD-12 mandate — even though GSA overruled a stop-work order after the protest in 2006. GSA claimed that work under the contract was a matter of national security. It is unclear whether GSA would again issue a similar ruling.

Critics say the EDS award was flawed. “This procurement was run better, but GSA should not have tied the Approved Products List to the entire process,” said an industry source who requested anonymity because of procurement sensitivity. All products that vendors bid must be approved by GSA for interoperability with HSPD-12 standards. “If they hadn’t tied the Approved Product List to the entire process, the protesters may not have much of an argument,” the source said.

That list figured significantly in both companies’ protests of the EDS award, according to Computer Literacy World’s filing, which states: “This award was improper because, upon information and belief, neither EDS nor XTec, the only remaining ‘highly rated’ offerors selected to submit pricing proposals submitted a compliant proposal capable of meeting the minimum contract requirement.”

The XTec protest centers on GSA’s alleged improper evaluations of cost, technical and project management factors, past performance, and best value. XTec also disputes the fairness of GSA allegedly changing the contract’s terms for product and service approvals at least six times during the three-month competition, industry sources say.

EDS spokesman Brad Bass said company policy prohibits its officials from commenting on protests. “EDS does plan to intervene in support of GSA’s award, but we cannot at this time publicly comment on the issues raised in these protests,” Bass said.
Losing bidders protest GSA’s latest HSPD-12 awardXTec and Computer Literacy World, two unsuccessful bidders for the General Services Administration’s contract for managing its Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 Managed Services Office, filed protests May 1 with the Government Accountability Office.

Computer Literacy World alleges that:
  • GSA awarded the contract to EDS, even though the company does not have a vendor on its team that was preapproved to provide e-personalization and graphical personalization services. Under the contract’s requirements, card vendors must have a GSA-approved partner to print the HSPD-12 cards using approved printing algorithms and approved middleware, printers and other components. The vendor also must have a GSA-approved partner for downloading public-key infrastructure certificates onto the card’s chip.

XTec alleges that:
  • GSA failed to conduct meaningful discussions with all offerors in the competitive range.
  • EDS should have been disqualified for changing the system after it demonstrated it and for offering GSA with the lower price for the new version.
  • EDS offered a lower price by manipulating options and other items.
— Jason Miller

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