GSI faults cost evaluation on DSSG

Government Systems Inc. said the Defense Information Systems Agency ignored its own evaluation criteria, which gave the most weight to price, in awarding a $2 billion network support contract last month to Boeing Information Services.

GSI's charge is contained in a protest the company filed with the General Accounting Office against DISA's Defense Information Systems Network Support Services - Global (DSSG) pact. According to a heavily censored version of the protest made available recently, GSI said DISA officials told it during a post-award debriefing that "nonprice factors were more important than price. They provided, however, no explanation to reconcile this view with the solicitation's explicit terms, which clearly established price as the most important evaluation factor [with a weight of 50 percent] and which make no provision for diminishing the importance of price."

GSI said it was the low bidder on the DSSG contract. It did not disclose its price, but legal filings indicate DISA did not consider the price difference between GSI and Boeing to be "significant."

Steve Campbell, director of business and corporate planning for GSI, said the company "does not have a history of protesting, but since we were the low bidder and price was 50 percent of the evaluation, it's hard to understand why we did not win."

Campbell added that GSI received only a "high level [post-award] debriefing from DISA in very general terms" that did not fully explain the agency's reasoning in selecting Boeing.

In its protest, GSI also alleged that DISA drastically changed the way it evaluated cost and pricing for the DSSG contract late in the game. Although DISA had targeted early May for award, on May 8 the agency said it intended to reopen discussions with the bidders "because information available at this time is inadequate to justify contractor selection and award based on the best and final offers received."

On the same day, DISA issued amendments to the DSSG procurement that GSI said "had the apparent purpose of reducing GSI's substantial price advantage over Boeing." GSI said the company found out at its post-award debriefing that the last-minute amendment caused "a dramatic change in its cost evaluation that nearly doubled the number of labor hours used for evaluation purposes.... Internal government estimates do not support this dramatic increase in the number of labor hours.... It is important to emphasize that the amendment...made no change to the work that the awardee will perform."

This change, GSI's filing said, reduced its original price advantage over Boeing. GSI said DISA officials told it that whatever the price differential between bids, during the source-selection process they had "not placed a significant weight on price. The contracting officer stated specifically that it was insignificant whether a proposal was 'cheaper.' "

The agency, GSI said, instead invoked a "best value" determination as its justification for making the award to Boeing. By doing so, DISA "apparently substituted evaluation criteria not set forth in the solicitation." GSI added that DISA "placed considerable weight on the fact that Boeing is a larger company than GSI." GSI also said DISA's "reliance on corporate size - or any other unstated evaluation criterion - was improper."

GSI has asked GAO to terminate the DSSG award to Boeing and award the contract to GSI.

DISA declined to comment on the allegations raised by GSI. In a statement, the agency said, "The protest has been reviewed by DISA and is considered without merit." Boeing declined comment also, but DISA said the company has intervened with GAO on its behalf.

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