Update: Protest of termination of $132M NIH IT Information Security Support task denied

Updated February 19, 2020

“DIGEST – Protest of an agency’s corrective action, which included terminating a task order and reviewing its requirement and acquisition process, is denied where the agency’s corrective action was reasonable in light of its failure to adequately document its earlier evaluation and award decision.” 

“BACKGROUND – On March 11, 2019, the agency issued the RFP … to holders of NIH information technology acquisition and assessment center Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 3 governmentwide multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts … The RFP sought a contractor to provide information security support services for the agency’s chief information officer. 

After the agency received initial proposals, engaged in exchanges with offerors, and requested several rounds of revised proposals, the agency selected Unissant for award …  On September 30, the agency issued a task order to Unissant for a base year and four 1‑year option periods with an anticipated total award value of $131,818,899. 

… Another offeror filed a protest with our Office, challenging various aspects of the agency’s evaluation of proposals and award decision.  Prior to the due date for filing its report, the agency informed our Office that it would take corrective action consisting of the following: 

(1)The Agency will terminate the task order; [and] 

(2) The Agency will review the requirement and the acquisition process with the intention of breaking up the requirement into two separate procurements, as opposed to continuing with the single solicitation at issue…” 

“DISCUSSION – Unissant raises various complaints about the agency’s corrective action.  Unissant primarily argues that the agency’s corrective action is unreasonable because “there [was] no flaw in the original evaluation and award.” … In response, the agency asserts that its corrective action was reasonable and within its discretion because its earlier procurement actions were flawed–that is, the agency lacked documentation to support its evaluation and award decision.” 

“We have considered all of the parties’ arguments, including those that are in addition to or variations of those specifically discussed below, and find no basis to sustain Unissant’s protest. 

Agencies have broad discretion to take corrective action where the agency determines that such action is necessary to ensure a fair and impartial competition… 

Here, the protester’s allegation that “there [was] no flaw in the original evaluation and award[,]” Protest at 11, is unsupported by the record.  The record shows that the contracting officer made her source selection decision despite what she now acknowledges was “a lack of supporting documentation.” 

DECISION – Unissant, Inc., of Herndon, Virginia, protests the corrective action taken by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH), in response to an earlier protest from another offeror challenging the issuance of a task order to Unissant under request for proposals (RFP) No. C57839 for information security services.  The protester contends that the agency’s corrective action–which included terminating Unissant’s task order and reviewing its requirement and acquisition process–is unreasonable. 

We deny the protest.” 

Read the full decision here. 

G2X TAKE: A protest filed in relation to corrective action that included the National Institutes of Health terminating a $132M task order for information security services and reviewing its requirement and acquisition process, has been denied. 

Of note is the section of the protest that states “As a final matter, while the agency suggested in its notice of corrective action that it has “the intention of breaking up the requirement into two separate procurements,” the agency now represents that “a  final decision on what strategy the agency will use to meet this requirement has not yet been made.” 


Posted October 1, 2019

G2X TAKE: It is great when a plan works. A little more than a year after recruiting Steve Erd as a Senior VP to drive new growth efforts across Civilian Health, this advanced data analytics and business transformation services provider and small business, with expertise in Healthcare and health IT, just beat out seven to be awarded a new 5-year contract supporting the NIH CIO, and the Institutes and Centers promoting best practices that will safeguard the NIH personnel, patients, computers, networks and data that the Agency relies on each day to fulfill its mission. This task was competed and awarded using CIO-SP3 SB as a small business set-aside.

 As part of this effort, Unissant will be expected to focus on helping NIH improve in areas such as:

  • reducing high risks areas, high-value assets,
  • improve protections for data, infrastructure, and staff,
  • provide complete visibility – continuous/increased visibility into IT assets, operations, threats and risks, and
  • integrate NIH Privacy coordinators into the accreditation and authorization process.

This is the first Prime award we can find for Unissant in support of NIH. 

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