FedBizOpps upgrade award remains in limbo

Courts tells GSA to re-evaluate bids to run the procurement Web site.

The 2 1/2-year attempt by the General Services Administration to improve the federal government’s procurement Web site, FedBizOpps.gov, remains stuck in limbo.
The Court of Federal Claims directed GSA to vacate its $17.4 million award to Symplicity Corp. of Arlington, Va., to enhance and run the Web site.

In a draft 80-page decision, the court found that GSA did not evaluate the proposals properly, and said that if the agency continues with the procurement, it should appoint a new source-selection authority, which should re-evaluate the original proposals of Symplicity, and the protesters, Information Sciences Corp. of Silver Spring, Md., and Development Infostructure (Devis) Corp. of Arlington, Va.
ISC is considered the incumbent on the contract, which has been extended several times.

ISC pursued the case to federal court, rather than to the Government Accountability Office, because, in part, the federal court’s decision holds more weight. The judge’s ruling is a preliminary injunction while GAO makes recommendations that agencies can choose not to follow.

GSA awarded Symplicity a contract with three base years and five one-year options in December after re-evaluating bids after a first protest by Devis and ISC. But even after the December award, ISC and Devis believed GSA has made some errors.

“Our goal was to get a new assessment of the proposals and challenge the propriety of the decision to award the contract to Symplicity,” said Rob Ryland, Devis attorney with Kirkland & Ellis LLP of Washington. “GSA needs to move forward expeditiously and appoint a new source-selection authority.”

William Shook, ISC’s attorney with Preston Gates Ellis LLP of Washington, said his client was pleased with the decision and looks forward to a successful conclusion of this 2 1/2-year process.

A GSA spokeswoman said the agency had no comment on the judge’s decision.
Symplicity officials would not return repeated calls for comment.

GSA has the option to appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Sources said that is highly unlikely, however, given the depth at which the judge wrote in her decision, and the fact it can take up to two years to be heard before the appeals court.

Starting over

Another option would be for GSA to terminate the FedBiz- Opps contract and start all over again. That option is also not a very good one, according to sources close to the procurement, because it would take another 12-18 months to award the new contract.

“If GSA terminated the contract, it would set them back years,” Ryland said. “The court is saying it is not the technical evaluation that was flawed, but the final decision.”

The best option, sources said, is for GSA to re-evaluate the current bids with a new source-selection authority.

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