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GSA: Between Alliant and a hard place

By the time you read this — and even as it is written late Friday — it may be out of date. The situation surrounding the General Services Administration’s $50 billion Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract appears to be evolving quickly, and it’s being carefully watched inside and outside government.

First, a quick history. GSA officials awarded Alliant contracts to 29 companies and later added another, bringing the total to 30.

In early October, a group of companies that did not make the contract joined a lawsuit filed by a failed bidder in federal claims court in September.

Earlier this month, the court’s judge determined in a sternly worded ruling that GSA had not performed due diligence in its assessment of the bid proposals, and he put Alliant on hold.

The big question is what could happen next to resolve the Alliant quagmire.

Most observers suggest that GSA has few options, and few of them are good ones. An important consideration is that this is a court case, so any resolution must be approved by the judge.

Most observers suggest that these are among GSA’s options:

  • Appease the protesters. GSA could work out an agreement with the eight protesting vendors and award them Alliant contracts. The risk is that other losing companies might then follow suit with their own lawsuits.

  • Recompete Alliant. The do-over option seems the least likely because most vendors would probably want to recover the costs so far associated with their bids. That’s money GSA doesn’t really have right now.

  • Appease everybody. GSA could award contracts to everybody and let the competition begin among task orders. That might make vendors happy, but will agencies be happy?

  • The neutral third-party option. GSA could bring in a neutral third party to conduct a new, independent assessment. The risk is that GSA would no longer have control over its own contract.

Regardless of the option GSA selects, agency officials not only need to convince all of the parties it is the right direction — they also have to convince a judge.

All of that means there are likely a few more chapters yet to be written in the Book of Alliant.

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