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GAO denies bid protest of controversial IRS contract

Apr. 2, 2013 - 05:45PM   |  
By JIM McELHATTON   |   Comments

The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday denied a protest from bidders challenging the award of a big Internal Revenue Service technology contract that a top House Republican wants investigated.

The GAO ruling upholds the IRS contract to Signet Computers over challenges from Government Acquisitions Inc. of Ohio and PCi Tech of Virginia, which had raised questions about both the evaluation and source selection, according to the six-page decision.

In a letter to the IRS in February, Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, cited interviews with unnamed witnesses in asking for an investigation into whether an IRS official steered contracts to Signet.

Issa’s letter said the company had been awarded up to $500 million in federal contracts last year, all from the IRS. It also raised questions about whether Signet improperly qualified for HUBZone status from the Small Business Administration.

Issa sent his request for an investigation to the IRS. The GAO ruling was confined to specific issues raised in the protest filed by the two competitors.

While the GAO ruling noted that Signet was not a HUBZone-certified firm when a bidders list was issued June 20, the IRS pointed out the company did get certified by the time the solicitation closed on July 30. The company lists offices in Washington and Virginia.

In addition, GAO said, the solicitation was “ambiguous” as to the timing for HUBZone certification.

GAO also backed the IRS decision to deem Signet a better value, while PCi challenged whether the agency’s decision was properly documented.

Attorneys for the protestors and Signet were not immediately available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

“Although the agency’s explanation of the rationale for its award decision is brief and concise, we conclude that the award decision was reasonable and adequately documented in the source selection decision,” GAO said.

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