GAO sustains contract award challenge brought using evidence from LinkedIn

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: In this photo illustration, the LinkedIn app is seen on a mobile phone on January 11, 2021 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Edward Smith/Getty Images)

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The Government Accountability Office has recommended the exclusion of a vendor from a task order after the awardee was found to have misstated the experience of a staff member in its bid submission.

GAO in a ruling late last year recommended that a contract awarded to Maryland-based A P Ventures be terminated and its proposal excluded from competition after it was found to have made a material misrepresentation over the experience of staff.

The award challenge was brought by Insight Technology Solutions, which cited the LinkedIn profile of an A P Ventures employee that showed fewer than five years’ work experience as evidence.

GAO in its decision said that the misstated employment history was material and that neither A P nor DHS meaningfully disputed the work history as it appeared on the social networking website.

“In their initial responses to the protester’s challenges, neither the agency nor the intervenor meaningfully dispute the employment information for A P Ventures’s proposed operation manager listed in the above-referenced LinkedIn profile … [f]urther, while the intervenor simply states that its key personnel candidate ‘had the required experience,’ it did not attempt to explain or otherwise provide information demonstrating that its candidate had the relevant experience required by the solicitation,” said GAO.

The companies were bidding on a task order issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at the Department of Homeland Security, which sought IT support services for its student and exchange visitor program. The solicitation was issued under the National Institutes of Health’s CIO-SP3 small business GWAC.

The performance work statement for the contract included a requirement that the project operations manager have a minimum or five years’ experience in managing projects.

According to bid protest documents, A P Ventures was awarded the task order in part because its management approach was judged to exceed requirements.

GAO in its decision recommended the task order be reevaluated as a result of the misrepresentation of personnel experience. “For the reasons discussed above, we conclude that A P Ventures’ proposal contained a material misrepresentation concerning the relevant experience of one of its proposed key personnel,” said the agency.

It added: “We therefore recommend that the agency terminate A P Ventures’s task order for the convenience of the government. We further recommend that the agency exclude A P Ventures from the competition, reevaluate the remaining proposals’ management approaches in accordance with this decision, and make a new source selection decision.”

GAO has jurisdiction over bid protests brought in relation to task and delivery orders awarded by civilian government agencies with a value of $10 million or more.

Insight Technology Solutions declined to comment. A P Ventures did not respond to a request for comment.

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CIO-SP3, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Government Accountability Office (GAO)
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