GAO recommends HHS reconsider $330M IT contract award to Accenture

Headquarters of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC., Nov. 4, 2011. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec) (Nov. 4, 2011)

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The Government Accountability Office has recommended that the Department for Health and Human Services reevaluate a $330M IT contract won by Accenture Federal Services (AFS), but dismissed a competitor’s claim that the awardees’ experience was improperly evaluated.

AFS was awarded the task order in April this year following a protracted solicitation process that has so far included three bid protests, the most recent of which was filed by Deloitte.

In its latest decision issued last month, GAO partly sustained the protest but also disagreed with the claim that AFS’ cost and price proposals were not properly assessed.

“We recommend that the agency reevaluate proposals consistent with the terms of the solicitation as they relate to transition, and make a new selection decision.”

“Alternatively, if the terms of the solicitation do not reflect the agency’s requirements, it should revise the solicitation, conduct discussions with the offerors; solicit, receive, and evaluate revised proposals; and make a new source selection decision,” GAO said.

Prior to the submission of bid protests by both Deloitte and AFS, the solicitation process had an initial closing date of August 5 2019.

The $330M solicitation included a task order to operate and upgrade IT services for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ federally facilitated exchange. The task order had a one-year base period that included a six-month transition period and four one-year option periods.

In November 2019, Deloitte was initially selected as the winning bidder on the contract, which was subsequently protested by AFS. In response, HHS took corrective action by reviewing and revising its evaluation document.

In June 2020, HHS again selected Deloitte for the contract, and AFS then filed another protest. Following corrective action, GAO dismissed Accenture’s second protest.

HHS then amended the solicitation, and in December 2020, the two contractors submitted their proposals for an amended solicitation process, prior to the most recent award of the contract in April.

In this latest decision, GAO also recommended that Deloitte be reimbursed for costs associated with filing and pursuing its protest, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

Deloitte had argued in its protest that AFS was improperly credited for experience during the award process because it relied on the experience of its corporate parent, Accenture LLP. GAO dismissed this claim in its opinion, saying that AFS in its proposal spelt out its intention to rely on resources from its parent company multiple times.

AFS and Deloitte declined to comment. HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Accenture Federal Services, Deloitte, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Government Accountability Office (GAO)
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