With protest looming, GSA abandons deal for card services

Agency will recompete the contract to manage HSPD-12 program

Although it issued the first of its new identification cards on time, the General Services Administration will be looking for another contractor to help the agency and its customers fully implement Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12.

GSA officials said last week that the decision not to pick up the remaining options of its five-year contract with BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va., should not impact its ability to help the nearly 40 agencies that signed up for the agency's HSPD-12 shared-services offering.

'The contract was always designed to give us the maximum amount of flexibility,' said one official, who requested anonymity.

Officials also stressed that the decision to cancel the contract was not made because of BearingPoint's performance'all involved highly praised the company for helping GSA meet the deadline'but more because of concerns about how the agency awarded the deal in the first place.

Steve Lunceford, a BearingPoint spokes- man, said his company will continue manning the four enrollment and issuance stations through Jan. 7.

'We worked very hard to meet an extremely tight deadline and were able to do so,' Lunceford said. 'We feel we have a great solution and look forward to continuing to help GSA.'

Almost immediately after the deal was signed in August, three companies lodged protests with GSA and the Government Accountability Office, claiming that GSA essentially favored BearingPoint's offer from the outset.

Government and industry sources expect GAO to overturn the contract because of the procurement process.

'Everyone said laudatory things and that BearingPoint did a bang-up job,' the official said.

Still, that the decision came literally days after GSA started issuing new identification cards to its agency customers, as mandated by the Office of Management and Budget, industry observers questioned whether recompeting the award will cause any delays.

'With the first'and most crucial'deadline for HSPD-12 passed, we think most agencies will now turn their attention to the issue of how to actually build a proper enterprise identity management system,' said Jeremy Grant, senior vice president of Stanford Washington Research Group in Washington. 'But with the GSA managed service now off the table, we think some agencies may face delays in this process.'

The BearingPoint contract was seen as the centerpiece of GSA's Managed Services Office, a new division the agency established this summer to oversee its implementation of HSPD-12. Under HSPD-12, agencies were to begin issuing new identification cards by Oct. 27; all federal employees must have the cards by October 2008.

GSA's contract specified that BearingPoint would help establish enrollment stations in Washington, Atlanta, New York City and Seattle that will distribute the new cards to GSA and its agency customers.

From there, the contract gave GSA the option of letting BearingPoint roll out more stations or start with a new approach in January.

GSA said in a statement that it would recompete the contract through its schedules program, which already contains more than 15 HSPD-12-approved integrators, or in a full and open competition.

"GSA believes that this competition will serve to reduce prices, minimize risk and improve service to its customer agencies,' GSA officials said in a statement. 'This voluntary action demonstrates GSA's commitment to use maximum competition and multiple sources in its procurement activities to provide excellent service to its customer agencies.'

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