GAO ruling puts Recruitment One-Stop in limbo

GAO ruling puts Recruitment <br>One-Stop in limbo

The Recruitment One-Stop project has hit e-government purgatory now that the General Accounting Office has sustained a protest of the $62 million contract the Office of Personnel Management awarded to revamp www.usajobs.opm.gov.

GAO last week ruled that OPM should re-evaluate all vendors' bids to determine if the proposed services are within the scope of the winning company's schedule contract. It also recommended that OPM reopen discussions with all companies in the competitive range and re-evaluate revised offers.

OPM in January awarded a five-year contract to TMP Worldwide Government Services of New York, the company that runs Monster.com. OPM could extend the contract to 2013 through option years, officials said. The potential value of the contract is $62 million over 10 years. (Click here for recent GCN coverage)

The decision followed shortly on the heels of a memo from OPM director Kay Coles James outlining upcoming changes to the site. Now those plans are on hold, awaiting a possible recompetition among the five bidders or an appeal of the ruling to either GAO or federal claims court.

Symplicity Corp., an 8(a) company in Arlington, Va., filed the protest, arguing that OPM accepted an improper quote from TMP. GAO agreed and noted that the TMP offer included two labor categories that are not included in its Federal Supply Service schedule contract.

OPM, TMP Worldwide and Symplicity all refused to comment on the decision. An OPM spokesman said the agency does not comment on 'ongoing litigation' but would not clarify whether that meant the agency would appeal the ruling.

In its decision, GAO said, TMP's quote was unacceptable 'because an agency cannot lawfully use the FSS ordering procedures to order services that are not contained on the vendor's schedule contract.'

Symplicity also said, and GAO concurred, that OPM erred in evaluating the systems integration costs of the project. The ruling called the evaluation flawed and said OPM failed to assess the bids on an equal basis that considered the total cost to the government.

Joseph J. Petrillo, a lawyer with the Washington law firm of Petrillo & Powell and a GCN columnist, said the status of TMP's contract is unclear.

'TMP could lose its contract in the recompetition,' Petrillo said. 'Given this resolution, I think OPM will do what GAO said and reopen discussions with all vendors in the competitive range and re-evaluate revised proposals.'

Agencies do not have to abide by GAO's rulings but generally do because not doing so generally results in having to appear before Congress to explain the refusal, Petrillo said.

TMP and OPM have until May 13 to ask GAO to reconsider its ruling.

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