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Guest Vern Edwards

Read CACI, Inc.-Federal; Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., GAO Dec. B-413028, Aug. 3, 2016, a protest against DISA's ENCORE III acquisition. The protest was sustained in part and denied in part. The GAO recommended payment of protest costs. (The two protesters were represented by nine attorneys altogether.) You can see the solicitation by Googling HC1028-15-R-0030. The RFP is written for a noncommercial item acquisition, even though the agency represented to the GAO that the work will have a 'substantial commercial application." Award was to be on an LPTA basis.

The problem that I'm pointing out is not that the agency lost the protest. The problem is that the agency has produced an extraordinarily complex RFP for a conceptually simple acquisition. The agency wants to award multiple multi-agency task order contracts for IT labor and project management services. Each contract will include 116 labor categories and rates and provide for fixed-price and cost-reimbursement task orders. Each will have an ordering period of five years plus five one-year extension options. Estimated total maximum value will be $17.5 billion over the life of the contract.

The RFP is for what I would call a labor market/personnel-office/project-management-office contract. The SOW could be summed up as follows: Do what we tell you to do when we tell you to do it, and pre-price your labor rates until we ask you to compete for tasks, at which point we'll ask for labor rate reductions.

The RFP is an artifact of a system that has gone completely off the rails, because its operators have gone off the deep end. The agency has an inflated concept of the contract and so has produced a complex solicitation and source selection, although I'm sure that there have been, are, and will be worse out on the street. At a max of $17.5 million over the life of the contract, you can say that the contract will be "large" in terms of total dollar capacity. I have no idea of what the average value of the individual task orders will be. They might be "large" or "small." As for complex, you can make something complex with Lincoln Logs if you buy enough pieces and work at it long enough. Same with domino lines. The question is: Why do it if you're not competing for a Guinness record? 

Is anyone out there working on a Ph.D. about the ways in which government works poorly? Here's your illustrative case.


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On September 8, 2016 at 11:18 AM, Todd Davis said:

"Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity." Thor Heyerdahl

This is a leviathan; it isn't simplicity.  This is an everything-for-everybody IT procurement.  It's hard to think of an IT task that would lie outside its scope.

I'm sure the PCO made mistakes.  But, the seeds for the RFP's complexity were planted and nurtured during the requirements definition.

And let's not ignore the effects of competition and profit motive in this mess.  The agency makes money when others use its vehicle.  So, they have an incentive to have the most flexible and all-encompassing contract possible.  This fuels complexity and dilutes focus.

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