STARS work continues after GAO denies Keane's protest of INS contract award

After four months of delay, the Immigration and Naturalization Service can move forward
with a contract aimed at improving 73 of its information technology systems now that the
General Accounting Office has denied a protest of the project’s contract award.


At issue was the second phase of the Service Technology Alliance Resource program.
STARS has three components: systems management and integration, performance, and
independent verification and validation.


On June 26, INS awarded contracts worth a combined $750 million to Computer Sciences
Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. for the performance
component.


But INS had to immediately halt work when Keane Federal Systems Inc. of Boston filed a
protest July 15.


Keane claimed that INS improperly evaluated its proposal and conducted an irrational
and arbitrary best-value analysis that distorted the solicitation’s evaluation
scheme.


INS officials said they evaluated the proposals based on five criteria: management,
experience and past performance, technical ability, cost and other business factors.
Management and experience and past performance were weighted more heavily than the
technical factor.


Although cost and other business factors were not independently rated, cost was
considered significantly more important than other business factors.


Although Keane was rated as having a stronger past performance than any of the winning
companies, it received only a good rating contrasted with the other three vendors’
outstanding ratings on management.


The General Accounting Office’s comptroller general denied the protest on Oct. 23.


“Keane’s proposal did not present a sufficient number of features to warrant
paying a $39 million premium”—the difference between Keane and lowest bidder
Lockheed Martin’s proposed costs—for slightly fewer features and added risks,
the GAO decision said.


Keane was not the highest bidder, however. Winning contractor EDS’ bid was $13
million higher than Keane’s. INS determined that EDS’ bid was the second
greatest value for the government because the company offered many superior features.


INS officials said they were delighted with GAO’s ruling. “We are excited
about our program and looking forward to working with the selected contractors,” said
Soraya Correa, STARS program manager.

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