AMGEN
BMS-center-logo
 

By Debbie Gregory.

Faced with criticism over how it awarded a contract to move computer systems to the Internet cloud, the Pentagon has slashed a nearly $1 billion contract down to no more than $65 million, while also scaling back the scope of the work. The revision will limit its use to only U.S. Transportation Command rather than the entire Defense Department.

The contract awarded to Herndon, Virginia-based REAN Cloud—an Amazon Web Services partner, has come under scrutiny by those who feel that the procurement wasn’t handled properly, charges that Pentagon officials strongly denied.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said that after reviewing the contract, the Defense Department decided that “the agreement should be more narrowly tailored” so that Rean would build a prototype service for a single agency, the U.S. Transportation Command, instead of many agencies within the military.

Oracle filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office last month that called the procurement “an egregious abuse” of the procurement process for a contract that it charged was “shrouded in secrecy.”

Additionally, the Pentagon was criticized because the original contract was awarded by the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx ) which was created to procure the technology of Silicon Valley-type companies that mostly shy away from Pentagon work. DIUx is fast-moving to provide non-dilutive capital to companies to solve national defense problems, usually in under 90 days.

The procurement, a follow-on to a smaller competed contract, was awarded under an “other transaction authority,” a way for the Pentagon to procure goods and services quickly without being subject to the bureaucratic federal acquisitions process.

Critics of the “other transaction authority” process say such arrangements are not competitive and insufficiently transparent.

By Debbie Gregory.

Vets First, a policy that gives preference to veteran-owned small businesses, has long been circumvented by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is in direct defiance of orders from Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court.

The program was created for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and expanded the Service-Disabled Veteran contracting program for VA procurements. It was designed to ensure that legitimately owned and controlled VOSBs and SDVOSBs are able to compete for VA VOSB and SDVOSB set-aside and are credited by VA’s large prime contractors for subcontract plan achievements.

In Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, the court ruled that not only was the VA disregarding VETS First, but in moving forward, the department’s “rule of two” should be used for all VA procurements.

The “rule of two” states a contracting officer of the VA, “shall award contracts on the basis of competition restricted to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans if the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States.”

In order to be in compliance, the VA must:

Revise its acquisition policies and training to ensure better oversight of its contracting activities;
Improve the ability for veteran-owned small businesses to obtain Federal Supply Schedule contracts for the products the VA buys; and
Discontinue its use of contract vehicles that do not contain veteran-owned small businesses.

With more than 7,000 veteran and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in the U.S. that have met the Vets First criteria, there is no excuse for the not to award contracts to these businesses.

ibmpos_blurgb