Contracting

CDM dashboard stirs second contractor controversy

Shutterstock image: checking documents.

The inspector general at the General Services Administration is assessing claims raised by a security technology vendor who claims contractors for the Department of Homeland Security's continuous diagnostic and mitigation dashboard are engaged in questionable cross-marketing activities.

Integrated risk solution provider Agiliance, which had been in the running to provide dashboard security technology, sent a letter Aug. 13 to GSA, the agency IG and its contracting officer alleging that two companies involved in the dashboard acquisition engaged in proactive marketing practices that are forbidden under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

The GSA IG's office said in an email statement to FCW that it is "still evaluating the information it has received" on the matter.

In information obtained by FCW, Agiliance contends InfoReliance, which is part of Metrica Team Venture, marketed RSA Archer's products in the period between GSA's awarding the Alliant Small Business Government Wide Acquisition contract to Metrica and the agency's decision on the dashboard vendor.

The questionable marketing, according to Agiliance's letter, occurred between March 2014, when GSA awarded the Alliant contract to Metrica to analyze commercial alternatives in designing the DHS dashboard solution, and early August 2014, when DHS accepted Metrica's recommendation for the dashboard vendor.

InfoReliance officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Agiliance's letter claims Metrica and subcontractor InfoReliance "were in a position to evaluate and recommend to DHS a dashboard solution … provided by a company with which InfoReliance has an established business relationship," and that the dashboard solution "was the subject of a special marketing effort undertaken by InfoReliance during the CDM Dashboard selection process."

The letter asserts Metrica and InfoReliance had "conflicting roles that might bias a contractor's judgment -- precisely the type of 'impaired objectivity' OCI [organizational conflicts of interests] that contractors and contracting officers must avoid or mitigate, under the FAR and the Alliant Small Business GWAC."

Several federal acquisition experts that are not involved in the DHS dashboard contract told FCW the letter was an unusual path for a company to take in seeking redress. Industry sources close to the dashboard acquisition said the letter was aimed at precipitating GSA's formal investigative process without filing a formal protest. Others speculated that Agiliance sent the letter because it did not have a stand-alone path to bring its concerns to GSA, since it isn't part of the Alliant Small Business GWAC and isn't directly contracting with DHS.

The Agiliance complaint marks the second time the CDM dashboard contract process has raised questions in as many weeks. A Sept. 2 announcement from RSA suggested that it had won the contract, but other vendors quickly countered that no final decision had been made.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

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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