Afghanistan: Analysis in Preparation for a Contract Award Protest

The US Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) issued a solicitation for a highly important military contract in Afghanistan.

The US Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) issued a solicitation for a highly important military contract in Afghanistan. The contract had estimated sales of US$10 billion. The incumbent supplier (Company A) had been performing similar contracts since the mid-2000s and was currently operating under a sole-source contract set to expire the end of the year following the solicitation release.

Four companies submitted proposals by late in the year of the solicitation release. DLA established a competitive range and engaged in discussions with the offerors. The Source Selection Advisory Council (SSAC) assessed the technical proposals of the two companies that were considered compliant and competitive in their responses, and rated them both as “Good” overall. Early the following year, the SSAC determined that Company B’s proposal represented the best value to the government and the contract was awarded to Company B.

A few months later, Company A engaged Cakum’s Managing Director, Aaron Birkbeck, to work with a colleague to investigate the credibility of the equal ratings of both proposals and eventual award to Company B. All of this was conducted without access to Company B’s proposal, and only with Company A’s proposal and publicly available information at hand.

The small team worked tirelessly, conducting a thorough analysis of Company A’s proposal – including the compliance, compelling nature and, importantly, the feasibility of the offer – and, with the assistance of an Afghan colleague, discovered some publicly-visible realities of Company B’s establishing operations on-the-ground under the new award.

The team analyzed all available information and delivered a professional report of findings to Company A, listing four critical flaws and three possible flaws in the SSAC’s evaluation.

Using the results of this report, and working with their legal counsel, Company A filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) a month later, challenging the award. This led to a suspension of Company B’s performance pending the resolution of the protest.

Later that year, the GAO partially sustained Company A’s protest, finding inconsistencies and unreasonable evaluation of both proposals. The GAO recommended that DLA re-evaluate both companies’ proposals and conduct a new price/technical trade-off analysis.