How the Air Force stuck with CACI for $5.7B IT contract Namhong / EyeEm

The company hired three former Air Force officials as part of its pursuit, but a conflict-of-interest investigation indicated that none of them brought insider information with them.

As we’ve previously reported, Peraton leaned heavily on allegations of conflicts of interest as it challenged CACI International’s winning bid for a $5.7 billion Air Force IT services contract.

Now that the Government Accountability Office has released its denial of Peraton’s protest, we have more visibility into the allegations and how they were evaluated.

In Peraton’s view, CACI had at the least an appearance of a conflict because it hired three former Air Force officials as it pursued the contract known as Enterprise-IT-As-A-Service Wave 1.

Peraton raised the allegations in its initial protest after CACI first won the contract in August. The Air Force took a corrective action because it saw the allegations as worth investigating.

Boy, did the Air Force and its contracting officer investigate.

This is Footnote 4 of GAO's decision:

“The agency states that the contracting officer sought the advice and assistance of a multidisciplinary team, reviewed information from 551 internal meetings, considered 131 data points regarding available information, created chronologies, and documented the contracting officer’s findings in a 35-page report that included 64 attachments and exhibits.”

One thing I see agencies get dinged for in many bid protests is a lack of documentation of its decision. That was not an issue for the Air Force in this case.

Later in the decision, GAO reviews the roles of each of the former Air Force personnel that CACI hired. They are identified as X, Y and Z.

The contracting officer looked at what information each person had access to and whether the information was publicly available. For non-public information, the contracting officer investigated if it was still relevant or competitively valuable.

For example, Person X stopped working on the EITAAS contract in 2020 and didn’t draft or approve any documents related to contract’s requirements.

Person X did have access to non-public information, but the contracting officer said the information was either later released or didn’t provide a competitive advantage. Person X signed a declaration under penalty of perjury that he didn’t help CACI with oral presentations or the quotation.

Peraton challenged that position in its protest, but GAO wrote it did not receive “any hard facts to support" that allegation.

Person Y didn’t have a formal role in the EITAAS contract. Person Y also signed a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that he didn’t have access to source selection information when he was an Air Force employee and didn’t share information after he joined CACI.

Person Z stopped working on the Air Force's enterprise IT initiatives in 2019 when deployed to Germany. While he did receive information on the initiative on five occasions, the contracting officer said that information was “generic, high level, and …. irrelevant.”

Like the other two people, Person Z also signed a declaration that carried a penalty of perjury that he didn’t have access to non-public or proprietary information.

GAO also denied Peraton’s argument that because the evaluation was flawed, so too was the best-value tradeoff decision.

But because GAO ruled the evaluation was fine, then the best-value tradeoff also passed muster.