Acquisition

AT&T to join Census mobile device efforts

smartphones 

AT&T and CDW-G are working out a contracting agreement to resolve the bid protest of Census's $283 million mobile device contract, to enable the bureau to move ahead with its dress rehearsal and decennial preparations.

The contract to provide enumerators with mobile devices and related services to conduct the 2020 count was initially awarded to CDW-G over the summer, but AT&T protested the award.

This protest was sustained in Oct. by the Government Accountability Office on the basis the bureau’s award conduct was improper, unequal and lacked adequate documentation.

AT&T will become a subcontractor to CDW-G, according to a Nov. 8 letter obtained by FCW. The letter, from the general counsel's office at Commerce to GAO, spells out the deal that will allow Census to move past the protest.

"The subcontracting agreement between the Intervenor and the Protester renders moot GAO's recommendation to reopen discussions and make a new selection decision," the letter states.

Commerce said that Census intends to lift a "stop work" order on the device-as-a-service contract and authorize CDW-G to resume operations on the contract.

According to the letter, AT&T informed Census it would be dropping its protest under the terms of the agreement.

It is unclear, however, whether the value of the contract will remain at $283 million and some portion of the original award will be offered to AT&T, or whether Census will end up on the hook for a sum greater than the initial contract.

One additional expense Census will ultimately bear is in fulfilling the second recommendation made in GAO's ruling -- to reimburse AT&T for legal fees and other costs associated with filing the protest.

News of the deal was originally reported by NextGov.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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