Acquisition

CBP offers 'explanation plus' to losing bidders

FAR image GSA

Customs and Border Protection's IT technology acquisition operation is developing ways to help explain to unsuccessful contract bidders why they lost out to competitors, according to the agency's top IT acquisition official.

In remarks at a presentation on acquisition and programming at FOSE in Washington, D.C., Guy Torres, CBP director of IT contracting, said he and his legal team had developed an "explanation plus" document to provide more information to vendors bidding under Federal Acquisition Regulation. The FAR can restrict providing explicit information on some bids to vendors. Torres said he wanted to provide some information to help vendors understand why they may have lost, instead of providing only a short statement that they didn't get a contract.

The "explanation plus" document, Torres told FCW, was done "on the fly" the week of May 5 to help frustrated bidders trying to get more information on why they weren't selected for a particular IT contract under the FAR. The document, he said, provided a modicum of information to the vendors that “helped lessen the blow, but we still got a protest."

In his FOSE presentation, Torres noted that he helped establish an acquisition acceleration center where CBP's programming and procurement staffs can work together to make contracting more efficient.

When he came on board in 2011, Torres said, contracting at CBP was an inefficient, sometimes chaotic and inordinately lengthy process. By bringing the programming and procurement staff together at the acquisition center, the agency has wrung $80 million in savings from more closely tailoring contract types, renegotiating contracts and breaking larger contracts into more efficient smaller contracts, he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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Reader comments

Tue, May 13, 2014

These types of written debriefs don't go far enough to fully explain the award decision. A letter can't answer the additional questions that vendors are going to have. In-person debriefs with the acquisition team would probably have prevented the protest. It's time consuming, but so is the protest. CBP should know that debriefs give vendors insight into their proposal performance so that they can improve, not just ease their hurt feelings.

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