GAO upholds protest against USAJobs award

GAO's protest decision

The General Accounting Office has upheld the protest of a contract awarded for the upgrade of USAJobs, the Office of Personnel Management's online job site, and recommended that the contract be reopened.

In January, OPM awarded a contract potentially worth $62 million to TMP Worldwide Government Services Inc., now Monster Government Solutions. Improvements sought for USAJobs include an enhanced search engine so job seekers can search for a position in a variety of ways, a resume-building tool, and online vacancy announcements that are shorter and easier to read.

GAO sustained the protest filed by losing bidder Symplicity Corp. because OPM did not adequately consider whether the services TMP identified in its quote were covered by its Federal Supply Schedule contract and because the agency did not reasonably evaluate quotes with regard to the vendor's proposed prices for systems integration (see box).

Symplicity and TMP were among three vendors that OPM determined were competitive for the USAJobs contract. OPM chose TMP's higher-priced, higher-rated quotation, according to GAO. Officials at Monster and Symplicity could not be reached for comment.

GAO recommended that OPM "reopen discussions with all vendors whose quotations are in the competitive range and request and re-evaluate revised quotations." It also recommended that OPM make sure vendors' quotes only cover services that are included in their schedule contracts and that the agency further clarify its systems integration needs.

Carl Peckinpaugh, senior counsel for Computer Sciences Corp. and a Federal Computer Week columnist, said GAO sustains 15 percent to 20 percent of its protest decisions. OPM is not legally required to follow GAO's recommendations, but agencies generally do. GAO must inform Congress if an agency decides to ignore its recommendations, which usually results in a Congressional inquiry into the matter, Peckinpaugh said.

An OPM spokesman declined to discuss the situation, saying, "The matter is still a pending legal issue and therefore we cannot comment."

Symplicity is an 8(a) vendor that provides software applications to manage numerous facets of college recruiting, including career fairs and on-campus interviewing. Some of its clients include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Postal Service and the Air Force.

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Protest specifics

Symplicity Corp. protested a contract award to TMP Worldwide Government Services Inc., arguing:

* The bid by TMP (now Monster Government Solutions) covered services that were not included under its schedule contract. Labor categories included in a vendor's quotation "must be listed on the vendor's schedule contract before a task order is issued," according to the General Accounting Office's April 29 decision.

* Symplicity's fixed-price quote included a price for systems integration while TMP's quote did not. Symplicity also questioned the decision by Office of Personnel Management officials to consider the vendors' approaches to marketing the USAJobs Web site and the size of their past contracts, but GAO denied this aspect of the protest.

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