Encore incumbents protest

Editor's note: This story was updated at 12 p.m. Feb. 28, 2007. Please go to Corrections & Clarifications to see what has changed.

Four companies have protested the Defense Information Systems Agency’s 10-year, $12.2 billion Encore II large-business contract, which DISA awarded late last month. Three of the companies--Computer Sciences Corp., Unisys and Northrop Grumman — were on DISA’s Encore I contract, but they failed to win a place on the follow-on contract. The fourth protestor is IBM Business Consulting Services.

The companies filed their protests with the Government Accountability Office. Public versions of the CSC and Unisys protests state that DISA failed to evaluate the bids properly. 

DISA awarded the Encore II large-business contract Jan. 26 to Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, EDS, Lockheed Martin, Science Applications International Corp. and SRA International. DISA intends to use the contract to support users as the agency transitions to a major DISA program, Net-Centric Enterprise Services. Under that program, the Defense Department is creating a departmentwide Web portal for access to knowledge databases and collaboration tools.

Unisys contends in its public filing that DISA told bidders that cost/price factors would be the least significant factors in its evaluation but that it awarded the contract to the six lowest-priced offerers anyway. Unisys further states that DISA gave all but one of 16 bidders the same past performance rating, thereby negating the extra weighted value that the agency had claimed it would give to past performance.

CSC challenged the Encore II award on a similar basis, contending that DISA effectively opened discussions with some bidders without first making a formal competitive range determination or conducting proper discussions.

Despite Encore II and other recent high-profile cases, protests haven’t become epidemic as some observed in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, said Trey Hodgkins, director of defense programs at the Information Technology Association of America. “If someone can show that we’re going in that direction, and I don’t believe we are, we’re certainly not there yet,” he said.

Many of the contracts that the federal government awards today “are larger contracts, which in many instances means fewer opportunities, so you’re seeing companies fighting harder for the work that’s out there,” Hodgkins said. 


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