A few weeks back I posted on the incomprehensible decision by the Veteran’s Administration to award almost all of a $6.8 billion contract to two “different” companies that are actually very closely related.
Last week came the news that the Government Accountability Office delivered an official head slap – with a 2×4 – to the VA.
Politico reported [subscription required]
the GAO “citing “prejudicial errors” has directed the Department of Veteran Affairs to go back to the drawing board…the office “recommended that the VA reopen negotiations with the offerers, solicit, obtain, and evaluate revised proposals; and make new source selection decisions” [emphasis added]
Oh, and the VA “misled two of the protestors during the conduct of discussions or negotiations. These errors led the VA to make source selection decisions…that were unreasonable…” [emphasis added]
Here’s my take.
First, there’s obviously some backroom dealing going on here. When a giant defense contractor – Lockheed Martin – that has a documented record of failing to deliver a service and its “partner” are awarded most of a “competitive” $7 billion contract, while a much smaller competitor that happens to have a far better record of delivering that service on time and to specifications is awarded a tiny piece of the contract, something stinks.
Kudos to the GAO for the investigation. HOWEVER, it’s unknown if this investigation would have happened at all if the three competitors who were screwed on the initial deal hadn’t spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing a protest within a really short time frame – a time frame that, to this observer, looks like it was designed to make it damn near impossible for the losers to react to the initial contract award to Lockheed Martin.
Second, and more important, this is outrageous, and demands further investigation.
There are thousands of veterans waiting on disability evaluations, a wait needlessly prolonged by what smells like corrupt contracting by someone or someones in the VA.
One just has to listen to calls from vets whose disability evaluations are delayed for months, vets in limbo because they have no idea if they will ever get any benefits, help, or the right treatment. These are men and women suffering from PTSD, missing limbs, burned, scarred, traumatized, now subjected to the mental anguish of not knowing when or if they will ever be taken care of by the country they fought for.
I would encourage you to email the GAO and ask it to continue the investigation to determine if this should be turned over to the Department of Justice. Here’s the email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
Because the individual or individuals responsible for this unconscionable delay deserve more than a head smack.
[disclosure – I’ve consulted in the past for one of the protestors – Veterans Evaluation Services]