IG chides Air Force for blunders in A-76 competition

IG chides Air Force for blunders in A-76 competition

The Pentagon's inspector general has ruled that the Air Force made so many mistakes in its handling of an OMB Circular A-76 job review and outsourcing competition at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, that the service should start the process over again.

After an exhaustive study, the IG found the Air Force had allowed inexperienced staff to evaluate bids, which resulted in miscalculations. Further, the IG chided the Air Force for allowing its officers to make significant changes to a bid proposal submitted by government workers.

The competition was flawed and unfair, the IG concluded in a recent report. The five-year, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract is worth $352 million and was awarded by the Air Education and Training Command to a three-vendor consortium.

Air Force officials have reviewed the IG's report and have several recommendations, said Lt. Col. David Lamp, an Air Force spokesman. The recommendations have been sent to the secretary of the Air Force and will not be made public until he makes a decision, Lamp said.

The controversy at Lackland comes on the heels of a similar flap at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The General Accounting Office recently recommended that the Air Force reverse its decision to award a support contract to government workers and instead give the job to DynCorp of Reston, Va. (see story, Page 40).

Circular A-76 directs agencies to conduct bidding competitions to decide whether to outsource programs. Government workers compete with vendors for a project if an initial review recommends outsourcing. An industry bid must beat a government bid by at least 10 percent to win an award.

In the Lackland competition, employees bid against Lackland 21st Century Services Consolidated to run the base's information technology and communications services. The private-sector team is a joint venture of Computer Sciences Corp., Del-Jen Inc. of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., and Tecom Inc. of Austin, Texas.

The winning bidder would be responsible for maintaining 18 base functions, including IT, logistics, transportation, utilities, airfield operations, engineering and environmental services.

The joint venture won by a margin of 10.02 percent, but the government employees appealed the award [GCN, April 16, Page 1]. The Air Force upheld the appeal in November, prompting the contractors to file a protest with GAO.

A month later, the Air Force gave the contract back to Lackland 21st Century, saying it had erred.

Next, Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez (D-Texas) wrote letters to Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters and later to the Defense Department's IG, asking for an independent review of the competition.

After the IG office released its findings, Rodriguez called on the Air Force to halt all A-76 competitions involving the Air Education and Training Command and to conduct a new cost comparison study at Lackland.

'A recent audit conducted by the Defense Department's inspector general ' found confused contract evaluations, miscalculations, and a flawed review and appeal process, among other serious problems,' Rodriguez said in a written statement. 'The findings further underscore the need to re-examine the way our military conducts A-76 competitions.'

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