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GAO overrules Justice on ID smart card contract, again

JNT Visual/Shutterstock.com

Government auditors have vetoed a Justice Department identification security contract for the second time, siding again with a losing bidder who has lodged repeated complaints the deal is a bad value for taxpayers.

For almost a year, the Office of Justice Programs, which manages $10 billion in funding for state and local law enforcement initiatives, has been fighting a legal battle to continue with a federally mandated smart card ID project. The protestor, NikSoft Systems Corp., first challenged the October 2011 contract awarded to LS3 Technologies in November of that year. The Government Accountability Office agreed with NikSoft’s contention that OJP overlooked the company’s strengths and told the agency to reevaluate both vendors’ proposals for securing computers with ID cards.

When OJP stood by its initial award, NikSoft lodged a second protest in May.

In an Aug. 14 ruling, GAO attorneys essentially reiterated that OJP unfairly skewed the ratings of NikSoft’s offering.

“The record provides no basis for the agency’s determination that the protester’s level of effort was insufficient or that the protester’s level of effort should be increased to the same level of effort proposed by the successful vendor,” GAO General Counsel Lynn H. Gibson wrote.

And, once more, GAO told Justice to reconsider its decision.

The attorneys recommended that “DOJ evaluate the vendors’ level of effort and labor mix and make a new best value selection decision. If LS3’s quotation is not found to reflect the best value, the agency should cancel LS3’s [contract] and establish a [contract] with NikSoft.”

Agencies typically follow GAO legal decisions.

(Image via JNT Visual /Shutterstock.com)

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