TSA told to restart competition for IT infrastructure work

GAO upholds protests by Unisys and General Dynamics

The Government Accountability Office ruled in favor of Unisys Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. in their protest of a $500 million Transportation Security Administration contract to Computer Sciences Corp.

In its Jan. 20 ruling, GAO recommends that TSA restart the competition for the Information Technology Infrastructure Program contract, which has been in the procurement process for at least three years.

In the meantime, Unisys, as the incumbent contractor for the work, continues to support and operate TSA infrastructure. Unisys won the TSA contract in 2002 and the work, which included services and equipment, has been worth more than $1 billion to the company.

Only the recommendation page of the GAO decision has been made public, but it notes that Unisys and GD were not fully informed about the basis for preparing pricing proposals in terms of the incentive fee. GD also was misled about its proposal page and the section relating to risk.

GAO said that TSA’s “pricing realism evaluation” was flawed.

In the recommendation, GAO wants the agency to:

  • Solicit revised proposals.
  • Advise the bidders of incentive fee to use in price proposals.
  • Provide adequate discussions with bidders.
  • Evaluate the proposals in light of the GAO decision.

GAO also wants TSA to reimburse Unisys and GD for the costs of the protests.

A TSA spokesman said the agency is reviewing its options.

Unisys released a statement saying it was pleased with TSA’s decision. “We look forward to working with the TSA as it responds to the GAO recommendations," it stated.

The competition for ITIP has had its ups and downs since the final request for proposals was issued in 2008. TSA has limited the competition to holders of the Homeland Security Department’s Enterprise Acquisition Gateway Leading Edge (Eagle) contract. The agency went through one downselect process to narrow the field, but that was met with protests so the competition was reopened to all Eagle contractors.

CSC won the contract in September 2009 and work was to start immediately on a transition. But that was halted once the protest process began.

The contract will provide TSA with a broad range of IT services, including developing requirements, operating all IT products and services, and telecommunications support. Work is done at airports and TSA offices and facilities across the country.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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Reader comments

Tue, Jan 26, 2010

TSA's acquisitino strategy should provide for multile awards. They need to break the work into smaller tasks and use task order continous competition during execution to continue to incentivize quality performance

Mon, Jan 25, 2010 Taxpayer Pentagon City

It appears the system worked in this case. TSA didn't play straight with the rules and were caught. What gives taxpayers confidence going forward is the knowledge that GAO and everyone will be watching as the next RFP, competition and selection process goes forward. Had TSA done it's work right the first time this contract would have been awarded long ago without notice or concern. Here they have an opportunity to start over and show all concerned that they aren't totally incompetent. May the best company win!

Sat, Jan 23, 2010

"Is it any wonder that Agency can't get anything done. " I don't see why its Unisys fault. The Agency's administration itself does not know how to get the work done. What you hear is not what it seems :).

Fri, Jan 22, 2010

Agreed that ITMS has kept TSA in a straight jacket for years. Also agreed about the staleness and worthlessness of Schambach, Emery, et al. Unfortunately TSA won't see anything better with Unisys or GD. What did Jack Nicholson say as Joker in the first Batman movie? "This town needs an enema!"

Fri, Jan 22, 2010

so what if TSA doesnt listen to GAO? What are the consequences?

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