GSA says it's confident in Alliant decision

General Services Administration officials said they’re confident of their award choices for the massive Alliant information technology contract and expect to win any protests.

“We followed to the letter the weaknesses that were identified by the Court of Federal Claims on our part,” said Mary Powers-King, director of governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) and IT schedule programs at GSA. “We did our part to improve.”

“A major part of our strategy going through this re-evaluation was to make absolutely sure that we were on very solid ground if challenged,” she added.

GSA announced March 27 that 59 companies had been awarded places on the $50 billion, 10-year Alliant GWAC. In July 2007, GSA had awarded 29 companies spots on Alliant and added Stanley Associates in January 2008 after re-examining bids of the nine companies that protested the awards.

Officials began re-evaluating 62 bids for Alliant after U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Francis Allegra threw out the agency’s initial awards a year ago. He ruled that GSA had not adequately evaluated bids.

As GSA began its second round of evaluations, companies had an opportunity to update their proposals and give their best and final offer. Powers-King said GSA opened discussions with the companies to talk about the deficiencies in their previous bids and allow them to better develop what they offered. She said improvements by both sides are what give GSA solid ground to stand on against any protests.

She didn’t think any companies would protest the awards but added that there’s always the chance. Losing bidders have 10 days to file a protest.

Officials warned against reading too much into the 59 winners from 62 bids that GSA reviewed. Several mergers and acquisitions and other typical marketplace moves have happened since 2007. For example, two companies bidding for places on Alliant merged and one withdrew its proposal.

“That makes the math a little fuzzy, if you will,” said Michael Sade, deputy assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services at GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. Officials would not give any information on the companies that didn’t receive awards or name the ones that were involved in mergers.

Officials said they would consider a follow-on contract to the $50 billion GWAC if the money from the economic stimulus law pushes Alliant above its threshold.

“Clearly, as we started out on Alliant, we didn’t have a crystal ball to know about the specifics of the stimulus,” Powers-King said. Officials took into account emerging technologies based on the presidential transition and new IT requirements from the Office of Management and Budget when setting the contract's ceiling price in 2006. At this point though, she said they’re comfortable with that price, even with the $787 billion in money that agencies now have to spend under the stimulus law.

“We always try to give a sufficient ceiling amount that’s going to be above what we probably in reality think will come through,” she said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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