Yesterday we began unpacking a GAO (Government Accountability Office) bid protest decision involving OCI (Organizational Conflict of Interest) assertions by Accenture against IBM. If you missed Part 1, go here to read it. Also, if you want to read the decision yourself, you can find the entire bid protest decision here.
Generally, OCIs fall into three broad categories (i) biased ground rules, (ii) unequal access to information and (iii) impaired objectivity. Accenture argued all three of these categories in its bid protest. Yesterday we discussed its arguments alleging biased ground rules. Today we look at unequal access to information and tomorrow we will complete the series looking at impaired objectivity.
Unequal Access to Information
An unequal access to information OCI exists where a firm has access to nonpublic information as part of its performance of a Government contract, and where that information may provide the firm a competitive advantage in a later competition for a Government contract.
Accenture argued that IBM had an unequal access to information because, as the contractor for the Army's FSPS (financial statement publication service) system, it had access to data from all of the Army's varied ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems - systems that fed the Army's GFEBS system (General Fund Enterprise Business System) - the contract being protested.
The contracting officer considered whether IBM might have unequal access by focusing on the type of information available to IBM in the course of FSPS contract. The contracting officer concluded that the information that IBM receives is financial information would not permit IBM to have unequal access to information. The contracting officer further noted that the information received by IBM is raw financial data that IBM must consolidate into general financial ledgers for the Army.
The GAO ruled that, based on the contracting officers consideration of the allegation, coupled with the protester's failure to explain how the type of data available to IBM could give it a competitive advantage, there was no basis to conclude that IBM had unequal access to information.
The GAO denied this portion of Accenture's bid protest.