IBM prevails in fight for $100M Navy HR contract JFTringali

The Navy gets affirmation of its choice of Big Blue for a project to consolidate and transform the branch's human resources applications.

IBM has prevailed in a battle over a $100 million project to transform human resources functions for the Navy.

The company took the contract from incumbent General Dynamics IT in November. GDIT followed up with a protest that raised questions about evaluations, pricing and a lack of discussions between bidders and the Navy.

GDIT and IBM were the only companies to submit proposals for the contract, which was competed as a task order under the Alliant 2 vehicle. The Navy Information Warfare Systems Command wants to transform and consolidate approximately 200 human resources applications under an initiative known as MyNavy HR.

The Navy found that GDIT’s proposal was not compliant because it didn’t have the necessary information needed to evaluate the company’s total probable cost, according to the Government Accountability Office's decision that was unsealed Tuesday.

The Navy’s source selection officer also found that even if GDIT’s proposal was compliant, IBM would have still been the pick because GDIT’s proposed price of $106.2 million was $4.1 million higher than IBM’s.

GDIT’s proposal was slightly better technically than IBM but the selection officer did “not believe there is sufficient basis to justify paying a $4.1 million cost premium for GDIT’s proposal,” GAO's decision says.

As far as GDIT’s complaint about a lack of discussions with bidders, GAO found that the solicitation was clear in that the Navy would not conduct discussions or “interchanges” as they are called in the decision.

GDIT argued that Defense Department regulations indicate a preference for discussions in acquisitions valued at $100 million or more, but the Navy argued and GAO agreed that it wasn’t a requirement. The Navy “exercised proper discretion,” GAO wrote.

GAO also ruled that GDIT’s claims of flaws with IBM’s technical proposal were invalid because they offered no specifics, only that there “must” have other flaws.

“In all, the protester has not established that the evaluation was inconsistent with the terms of the RFP,” GAO wrote.

With GAO’s decision, GDIT has reached the end of the line. GDIT cannot take its protest anywhere else because GAO is the final authority for protests involving task order competitions.