GAO asks Congress to investigate Army inaction in A-76 case

Congress should investigate why the Army has taken more than a year to implement a bid protest decision by the General Accounting Office, GAO General Counsel Anthony Gamboa said last week. While agencies occasionally refuse to follow GAO bid protest decisions, the Army case marks the first time in recent memory that GAO has reported an agency to Congress for delaying compliance, according to Daniel I. Gordon, associate general counsel at GAO. "I am not aware of any case where an agency has delayed implementing a recommendation of ours so long that we reported the matter as a failure to follow our implementation," he said. In a June 19 letter, Gamboa asked for a congressional inquiry into why the Army had yet to follow GAO's recommendations in a bid protest over a public-private competition at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Under the 1984 Competition in Contracting Act, GAO is required to report to Congress when an agency does not implement its recommendations. The letter was prompted by the Army's failure to issue a new request for proposals in a public-private competition to perform industrial maintenance work at Aberdeen. In a February 2000 decision, GAO directed the Army to carry out a new competition to remedy flaws in the original contest, which was won by in-house workers. "In view of the lengthy delays in carrying out our recommendation-more than 15 months have passed since we issued our decision-and given the Army's estimate that it will require at least an additional half year to take concrete action in response to our decision, we conclude the Army…has failed to implement the recommendation," wrote Gamboa. GAO ordered a new competition after concluding the Army violated federal rules that dictate how agencies should compare bids from contractors and in-house workers. For example, the Army ignored certain performance strengths in the contractor's bid, meaning the private firm was held to a higher standard than the in-house group. The Army accepted GAO's recommendations for a new competition in July 2000, but the competition has been held up by "unavoidable delays," according to a May letter from the Army quoted by Gamboa.
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