Protest Denied: USCIS Integrated data analytics, AI/ML, development, security, and operations services task

G2X TAKE: Details have now been released in relation to a recent protest which challenges this firm’s exclusion from being selected to advance to step two of the competition for this high-profile 3-year task order to support the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  

“DIGEST – Protest challenging an agency’s evaluation of the protester’s quotation is denied where the protester has not shown that the evaluation conclusions were unreasonable, inconsistent with the solicitation, or applied unstated technical requirements.” 

“BACKGROUND – USCIS issued the RFQ on May 13, 2019, under the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) procedures of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 8.4, seeking quotations for integrated data analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and development, security, and operations services.  Agency Report (AR), Exh. 1, RFQ at 1, 38.  The RFQ anticipated the award of a single task order with a base period of 1 year, and two 1-year options.  Id. at 2.  The RFQ was limited to vendors holding a contract under the General Services Administration Schedule 70 special item number 132-51.  Id. at 1.  

Vendors were to submit quotations in two parts:  a coding submission, completed by current employees of the prime and/or subcontractor; as well as price and other information.  With respect to the first part, the RFQ presented a problem statement, to which quotations were required to respond with a coding submission to solve the problem.  Id. at 27-30.  The solution was required to include a single script that would provide a link to launch an interactive notebook and launch at least three environments (development, end-to-end testing, and production).  Id. at 28-29.  The interactive notebook and environments were to run within Amazon Web Services (AWS).  Id.  As relevant to this protest, the RFQ neither required nor prohibited vendors from using the AWS service “SageMaker” as part of their solution.  See Id.  The RFQ also required the coding submission to include a plain‑text file entitled “ReadMe.md” which was to include “[a]ll instructions for deploying the solution in an AWS account.”  Id. at 29.  

The RFQ provided for a two-step evaluation process.  RFQ at 32-33.  In step one, USCIS was to evaluate the coding submission, and review whether prices were fair and reasonable.  Id. at 33.  Evaluations of the coding submissions were to consider the extent to which the solution and its supporting documentation adhered to the required instructions.  Id.  The agency was to assign strengths, weaknesses, significant weaknesses, and deficiencies to elements of the coding submission that exceeded requirements of the RFQ or increased the risk of unsuccessful contract performance.  Id. at 37.  Each coding submission would be rated outstanding, good, acceptable, or unacceptable.  Id. at 36-37.  Quotations from vendors whose coding submissions were found to be the highest technically rated with a fair and reasonable price would be considered to proceed to step two of the evaluation.  Id. at 33.  The agency intended to select three vendors to proceed to step two.  Id.  

In step two, the agency was to evaluate how well the selected vendors performed in technical demonstrations conducted by the agency.  Id. at 33,35.  Award was to be made to the vendor whose quotation offered the best value to the agency when considering the technical demonstration and price.  Id. at 33….” 

“DECISION – Accenture Federal Services, LLC (Accenture), of Arlington, Virginia, protests its exclusion from consideration for award of a task order under request for quotations (RFQ) No. 70SBUR19Q00000066, which was issued by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for integrated data analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and development, security, and operations services. The protester argues that USCIS unreasonably concluded Accenture’s quotation was technically unacceptable based on an evaluation that applied unstated technical requirements. 

We deny the protest.” 

Read the full 6-page decision here. 

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