DHS cancels $1.5B contract for agile services

After two sets of awards and more than 20 protests, the Homeland Security Department is going back to the drawing board with its FLASH small business vehicle.

The Homeland Security Department’s has cancelled its $1.5 billion contract vehicle for agile development services.

Multiple industry sources confirmed DHS alerted the companies and the Government Accountability Office that it would no longer move forward with the troubled small business procurement known as Flexible Agile Support for the Homeland (FLASH).

An email to DHS seeking comment on FLASH was not immediately returned.

It’s unclear what comes next for FLASH—whether DHS will try again with a new procurement or give up entirely on a separate contract vehicle for agile services and rely on an existing one like EAGLE II.

DHS has been working on the multiple award vehicle for the better part of a year. The goal of FLASH was to give department components access to innovative methods and industry best practices to acquire agile design and development support services. DHS said in the solicitation it was seeking to develop an acquisition contract that includes the concepts from the U.S. Digital Services Playbook such as user-centered design, dev/ops, automated testing and agile. DHS’s Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL) was running FLASH.

But since November when DHS awarded FLASH to 13 companies, it faced an uphill battle to get the contract off the ground. Eight vendors who didn’t make the cut submitted protests to GAO. DHS decided to take corrective action instead of letting GAO decide the protests and reopened bidding.

Then in early March, DHS announced 11 new winners under the FLASH contract, and 12 unsuccessful bidders protested to GAO again.

The decision to cancel FLASH comes as more and more agencies are developing contract vehicles to buy agile services. Along with the DHS, the General Services Administration’s 18F organization also struggled to award and ultimately cancelled the second and third contracts under its agile blanket purchase agreement. 18F awarded 16 vendors a spot in part one of its agile BPA in August 2015.

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