The federal government’s ongoing efforts to hasten the processing of security clearances hit a speed bump this week, as an auditor ruled the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) unfairly awarded a contract to a company seeking to provide support services in background investigations processing.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) decision comes shortly after OPM stood up the nascent National Background Investigations Bureau. Two companies filed a protest with GAO after OPM awarded the $117 million contract to Primus Solutions, a division of ARSC Federal. The contract was for at least two years with options of up to five, and was intended to provide OPM employees support in processing background investigations.
In its solicitation, OPM had said it would consider price to a much lesser degree that non-price factors such as technical approach, quality control plan, staffing plan and past performance. Primus came in more than $9 million below one of the companies filing the protest and more than $44 million below the other. GAO confirmed allegations that OPM’s selection authorities ignored initial concerns from its price evaluators that Primus’ cost estimates were “unrealistic.”
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