US Homeland Security admits software procurement errors

14 June 2017

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has admitted to errors in the collapsed procurement of a high-profile software services contract.

DHS cancelled the $1.5bn Flexible Agile Support for the Homeland (FLASH) procurement because of “significant errors and missteps in the procurement process”.

This was according to a letter from the DHS general counsel’s office to the Government Accountability Office about the FLASH programme, which aimed to provide a means of easily contracting services from SMEs.

Errors in the process included the post-award alteration of pricing documents, the failure to capture high-quality video of technical demonstrations from potential suppliers and neglecting to incorporate potential security classification costs in bid evaluations. DHS also admitted that it lacked the expertise to evaluate agile software services effectively.

DHS also expressed fears that errors in the evaluation of potential suppliers may have resulted in unequal treatment of their respective weaknesses and risks in the bidding process.

And the agency confessed it had not required suppliers to provide sufficient information to assess whether the prices proposed were realistic to perform work on classified material.

Under normal circumstances it would have conducted a re-evaluation of proposals, but in this case it said it lacked sufficient information to do so, partly due to the variable quality of the video component of the bids.

There was also a lack of staff at the agency qualified to evaluate such technically specialist bids, the letter added.

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