Recruitment deal hits protest limbo

The administration’s Quicksilver e-government program has hit its first big hitch: a vendor protest that has put the Recruitment One-Stop project on hold.

The project was put in limbo last month following a General Accounting Office ruling that upheld a protest of the Office of Personnel Management’s award of a contract to revamp

OPM has appealed the ruling, asking GAO to reconsider its decision.

“We will look at the issues that are raised by the party,” said Sharon Larkin, the GAO lawyer who rendered the original decision and is assigned to the appeal.

She wouldn’t provide details about the appeal and gave no timetable for when GAO would issue its decision.

An OPM spokesman also refused to comment on the appeal.

A GAO official said it is unusual for agencies to file for a reconsideration; vendors file about 90 percent of appeals.

The official added that GAO might ask OPM to submit a 10- to 30-page document further detailing its argument on why GAO should review its decision.

Bid misunderstood

In its original decision, GAO sided with Symplicity Corp. The Arlington, Va., company had protested OPM’s January award of a five-year, $62 million contract to TMP Worldwide Government Services Inc. of New York to update the federal jobs Web site.

GAO upheld the protest on the grounds that OPM erred in evaluating the bid from TMP, which runs the job Web site.

Specifically, GAO said TMP’s offer included two labor categories that are not included in the company’s Federal Supply Service schedule contract through which OPM awarded TMP the Recruitment One-Stop pact.

TMP’s bid was unacceptable “because an agency cannot lawfully use the FSS ordering procedures to order services that are not contained on the vendor’s schedule contract,” GAO ruled.

GAO also found that OPM erred in evaluating systems integration costs for the project. OPM failed to assess the bids on an equal basis that considered the total cost to the government, GAO said.

GAO concluded that OPM should re-evaluate all vendors’ bids to determine if the proposed services are within the scope of the winning company’s schedule contract. It also recommended that OPM reopen discussions with all companies in the competitive range and re-evaluate revised offers.

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