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$1.4 billion e-travel contract hit by protest

Jun. 22, 2012 - 04:43PM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
Business travelers board a Boston-bound Amtrak Acela train at Union Station in Washington, D.C., in April 2008. The General Services Administration's $1.4 billion e-travel contract award to Concur Technologies Inc., which means Concur would handle booking all business travel for the agency, has come under fire.
Business travelers board a Boston-bound Amtrak Acela train at Union Station in Washington, D.C., in April 2008. The General Services Administration’s $1.4 billion e-travel contract award to Concur Technologies Inc., which means Concur would handle booking all business travel for the agency, has come under fire. (AFP)

The General Services Administration’s $1.4 billion e-travel contract award to Concur Technologies Inc. this month has come under fire.

In a protest filed last week with the Government Accountability Office, incumbent vendor CWT Sato Travel claimed that the 15-year contract award to Washington-based Concur would create a monopoly on federal travel services for all civilian agencies. CWT Sato Travel, which operates one of three existing federal e-travel systems, is also protesting GSA’s evaluation of the industry proposals.

“In this procurement, there was simply no reasonable or rational basis for GSA to give Concur a monopoly on a major services contract valued at more than a billion dollars — particularly because the period of performance is an unprecedented 15 years,” according to the GAO protest filed June 15. “Concur has never provided end-to-end electronic travel services to the agencies that would be required to use the system and has proposed a developmental solution that has not yet been fielded in support of a government agency.”

In its protest, CWT Sato Travel said GSA’s solicitation allowed bidders to “impose unique parameters and limitations on the amount of work that they would be required to perform.” GSA ultimately did not evaluate bid offers on a common basis, according to the protest.

“GSA’s overall rating of Concur, which has no prior experience in servicing the federal agencies that are required to use the ETS, as ‘very good’ while rating the incumbent team as only ‘marginal’ is highly suspect and calls into question the fairness of the evaluation,” the protest said.

“The fee is set to recover GSA’s cost to provide such services as program management, security compliance, contract administration, vendor performance management; consulting services to customers, and operational expenses,” Timothy Burke, director of GSA’s Office of Travel and Transportation Services, said in an email.

GSA will continue to collect a $5 fee under the new contract. In the protest, CWT Sato Travel claims that more than $200 million of Concur’s contract award represents fees GSA will collect under the new contract.

GSA said projecting future fee amounts would be speculative because fees are collected as agencies use the services.

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