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Friday, July 12, 2013

What has taken this so long to happen

Planning.    One of the essential four classic duties of management.

Bid protests.   As sure as rain in the tropics.

We plan for all kinds of contingencies but act like protests are an unforeseen bolt out of the blue. I have long advised that we must plan for all known and foreseeable contingencies.  Not planning for protests is not planning at all. 

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

I am therefore heartened to read this short article in the Federal Times.

Bid protests so common agencies plan for them, officials say
“We build time in our procurement now for protests. We know we are going to get protested,” Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services at the General Services Administration, said at a conference Thursday.

Frank Baitman, chief information officer at the Health and Human Services Department, said contracting within the federal government is broken and that bid protests are one reason why procurements may take up to four years.

“We go into large procurements knowing we are going to be protested,” Baitman said.

Speaking at the 2013 Multiple-Award Government and Industry Conference in Alexandria, Va., Davie said that part of the problem is agencies are not clearly communicating to companies why they did not win the contract, which prompts companies to protest to get more information.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC and from the same handy Federaltimes.com source:

How bid protests are slowing down procurements
The Navy announced June 27 it was awarding Hewlett Packard a potential five-year, $3.5 billion contract to develop a computer network to serve up to 800,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Three weeks later, the inevitable happened: The losing party, a team of Harris Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp., filed a protest, potentially delaying the contract award by more than three months.

This came as no surprise to Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. “There is no defense against a protest, but there is absolutely preparation to ensure that in the event of a protest that the government prevail, and we took every measured step to do that,” Stackley said.

“We build time in our procurement now for protests. We know we are going to get protested,” said Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services at the General Services Administration, at a July 11 conference.

Michael Fischetti, executive director for the National Contract Management Association, said with fewer contracting dollars being spent because of the sequester, some companies are almost certain to file a bid protest — particularly if the vendor is an incumbent seeking to prolong the contract. “They may not really know what they’re protesting,” Fischetti said. “But they’ll throw everything against the wall, and during the discovery process they may find something. I think that’s just human nature.”

Joe Jordan, administrator for federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, said bid protests are an important part of the acquisition process, but too many of them can gum up the process. OMB encourages agencies to explain clearly to companies why they lost a competition and why an award went to a particular company. By sharing more information, agencies can reduce bid protests, Jordan said.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said the agency is working to minimize bid protests by reviewing its contracting process and identifying opportunities to train employees on comprehensive contracting requirements. GSA also has lengthened its lead time on certain contracts to make sure the agency has done its due diligence but balances that with keeping up a timely contracting process.

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