Agency pulls a fast one at GAO … and gets caught

After a protest was filed at the GAO, a procuring agency delayed implementing the mandatory statutory suspension of work, then amended the awardee’s contract to permit the awardee to fully perform before the suspension actually kicked in.
Then the agency got caught.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealIn a recent decision, the GAO sustained a protest because the agency had circumvented the GAO’s bid protest process.  But while the agency got busted–a good thing–the penalty it will pay is less than satisfactory.

The GAO’s decision in SCB Solutions, Inc.–Reconsideration, B-410450.2 (Aug. 12, 2015) involved a Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) RFQ for personal identity verification cards.  The RFQ was issued via the GSA’s eBuy system to holders of GSA Schedule 70 contracts.  The RFQ stated that award would be made on a lowest-priced, technically-acceptable (LPTA) basis.

VA sealThe RFQ called for the issuance of a single, fixed-price delivery order for 400,000 PIV cards.  The PIV cards were to be provided in five production runs of 80,000 each.  Within 30 days of award, the contractor was to deliver a test run of 100 cards.  After the agency accepted the test run, the contractor was to deliver the remainder of the first production run; delivery of the other production runs would follow.

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AF lifts suspension of reverse auctioneer FedBid

Just a few weeks after the Air Force suspended contracts with FedBid, a Vienna, Va. reverse-auction company and requested the company’s debarment, the service lifted the suspension after reaching an administrative agreement, according to a Feb. 20, 2015 Air Force document.

The suspension stems from a Veterans Affairs Department inspector general report that said Susan Taylor, Veterans Health Administration deputy procurement officer, pressured staff repeatedly in emails to speed up the acquisition process and pick FedBid for the reverse auction contracts.

The IG report says Taylor, “improperly disclosed non-public VA information to unauthorized persons, misused her position and VA resources for private gain, and engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when she recommended that a subordinate senior executive service employee be removed from SES during her probation period.”

The agreement will end both the suspension and debarment proceedings as long as FedBid “maintains the business honesty and integrity required of a government contractor and that the company operates in strict compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and terms of its governance contracts and subcontracts.”

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Air Force suspends, begins debarment process of reverse-auctioneer FedBid

The Air Force has suspended FedBid from federal procurement activity, both new contracts and follow-ons, as of Jan. 26, 2015 and proposed the reverse auction company for debarment.

FedBid’s listing in the System for Award Management (SAM) says the Air Force suspended and is proposing debarment with proceedings pending.

The Air Force wrote in the listing on SAM that it deemed FedBid ineligible for new contracts or follow-on deals “based upon adequate evidence of conduct indicating a lack of business honesty or integrity, or a lack of business integrity, or regulation, statute, executive order or other legal authority, pending completion of an investigation and/or legal proceedings.”

“As promised in our previous reporting on VA’s contracting and relationship with FedBid, the OIG referred FedBid to the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee for an independent decision whether the company should be debarred. Through the Committee’s processes the Department of the Air Force agreed to be the lead agency,” said an VA OIG spokesperson in an email to Federal News Radio.

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DHS, OPM suspend contracts with USIS after major cyber attack

Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesman, would not confirm the identity of the contractor but said that a multiagency cyber response team is working to identify the scope of the attack and how many employees were affected.

He said the agency has determined that some DHS personnel have had their personal information compromised and the agency has notified its entire workforce to monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity.

“As we continue to investigate the nature of this breach on an urgent basis, we will be notifying specific DHS employees whose [personally identifiable information] we can determine was likely compromised.”

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Contractor suspensions and debarments doubled over the last 4 years

The number of contractor suspensions and debarments government-wide have doubled since fiscal 2009 because agencies have developed better management tools and a more active referral process, a May 21 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says.

Agencies can use suspension and debarment to exclude individuals, contractors and grantees from receiving future contracts, grants and other federal assistance due to various types of misconduct.

A previous GAO report found agencies issuing the most procurement related suspensions and debarments shared common characteristics: dedicated staff, detailed policies and procedures, and an active referral process.

Many agencies that previously faltered in rooting out contractor misconduct have taken the lead from those stronger agencies, the latest report says.

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