$11.5B HR training contract creeps toward freedom from protests

Slowly but surely, the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management are getting closer to unleashing the Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTS) contract.

After awarding the $11.5 billion HCaTS contract to 109 large and small firms in May, 26 unsuccessful vendors protested to the Government Accountability Office and put the awards on hold for the summer.

But over the last three months, the number of remaining protesters dwindled to 14 from 26 as GAO has dismissed five and denied one.

GAO has two more weeks to decide six of the final eight vendors’ complaints. Two vendors submitted protests in July, which puts GAO on schedule to decide their complaints in mid-October.

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Nine other protests under the small business version of HCaTS were dismissed after two of the protestors decided to take their case to the Court of Federal Claims.  GAO automatically dismisses protests about the same issue when one goes to the federal court.

GAO says one vendor submitted a reconsideration request that is now pending before GAO because it says its complaint was different than the nine that went to the Court of Federal Claims. The reconsideration will not stop GSA and OPM from moving forward with the contract if and when all protests are decided.

So far, GAO has dismissed protests from Censeo Consulting, Fors Marsh Group, Human Resource Research Organization and Cherokee National Technology Solutions all on June 3, and then from NTT DATA Federal Services Inc., on July 13.

GAO says these vendors’ protests were dismissed because GSA took corrective action.

Then on Aug. 24, GAO dismissed a protest from Sevatec.

Sevatec claimed the elimination of its proposal was unreasonable and inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation.

GAO agreed with the agency’s argument that because Sevatec submitted an “unsigned contract modification document to meet the solicitation requirements regarding experience” it wasn’t a legally binding document.

“Further, without additional evidence that deliverables had been provided, the agency maintains that it could not verify, from the proposal submitted, that Sevatec’s assertions regarding its experience were valid,” the decision stated. “[W]e find no basis to question the reasonableness of the agency’s determination that the unsigned document submitted by Sevatec was insufficient to meet the solicitation’s experience requirements.”

The likelihood of the remaining eight protestors, which includes some well-known HR firms, such as Grant Thornton and Federal Management Partners, winning at GAO doesn’t look great.

GSA has been successful in defending its scoring system it used under HCaTS. It used a similar one to evaluate bids for the OASIS professional services governmentwide contract and no protests were successful.

Agencies and vendors alike are waiting for HCaTS to go live and there seems to be a little light at the end of this long tunnel.

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