Acquisition

CBP offers 'explanation plus' to losing bidders

FAR image GSA

Customs and Border Protection's IT technology acquisition operation is developing ways to help explain to unsuccessful contract bidders why they lost out to competitors, according to the agency's top IT acquisition official.

In remarks at a presentation on acquisition and programming at FOSE in Washington, D.C., Guy Torres, CBP director of IT contracting, said he and his legal team had developed an "explanation plus" document to provide more information to vendors bidding under Federal Acquisition Regulation. The FAR can restrict providing explicit information on some bids to vendors. Torres said he wanted to provide some information to help vendors understand why they may have lost, instead of providing only a short statement that they didn't get a contract.

The "explanation plus" document, Torres told FCW, was done "on the fly" the week of May 5 to help frustrated bidders trying to get more information on why they weren't selected for a particular IT contract under the FAR. The document, he said, provided a modicum of information to the vendors that “helped lessen the blow, but we still got a protest."

In his FOSE presentation, Torres noted that he helped establish an acquisition acceleration center where CBP's programming and procurement staffs can work together to make contracting more efficient.

When he came on board in 2011, Torres said, contracting at CBP was an inefficient, sometimes chaotic and inordinately lengthy process. By bringing the programming and procurement staff together at the acquisition center, the agency has wrung $80 million in savings from more closely tailoring contract types, renegotiating contracts and breaking larger contracts into more efficient smaller contracts, he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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