US State Department’s 5-Year, $10.0B WPS Security Contract
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security – Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) contract hires armed bodyguards and security for American diplomatic personnel worldwide. That means a combination of personal protective (bodyguard), static guard (facilities and checkpoints), and emergency response security (fan looks hit…) services. It is probably the most lucrative such program on the planet, and as one might expect from its size and nature: the FY 2010 budget request and justification was for $1.65 billion, covering 1,898 personnel.
It’s also occasionally the subject of controversy when its contractors are involved in armed clashes, or some segment of the people involved display stupid, unprofessional, or even illegal behavior. If allegations are true, extremely lax management and poor choices in contractors have contributed to the problems. The State Department’s own rules can also create Catch-22s for the unwary, and corruption where they work can be as dangerous to contractor employees as enemy bullets.
Fore the US Department of State, the questions ultimately boil down to control and consequences. Do they have it, and do they enforce them? Which is why the latest 5-year, $10 billion multi-award umbrella contract is attracting interest and scrutiny. Under solicitation SAQMMA10R0005 (-a), 8 pre-approved contractors can compete for each award during the base year and up to 4 option years of the contract. Each is guaranteed only $5,000, which would serve as minimal compensation relative to even the cost of bidding. The winning firms include:
- Aegis Defense Services, LLC (SAQMMA10D0094).
- DynCorp International, LLC (SAQMMA10D0095).
- EOD Technology, Inc. (SAQMMA10D0096). This firm has reportedly won a task order to protect the US embassy in Kabul, displacing G4S whose employees have been at the center of scandals.
- Global Strategies Group (Integrated Security), Inc. (SAQMMA10D0097).
- International Development Solutions, LLC (SAQMMA10D0098). This is a joint venture between Kaseman, LLC and Blackwater/Xe’s U.S. Training Center affiliate.
- SOC, LLC (SAQMMA10D0099).
- Torres International Services, LLC (SAQMMA10D0100).
- Triple Canopy, Inc. (SAQMMA10D0104).
Under the solicitation’s Section M [ZIP archive], selection criteria include at least 2 years experience executing at least $15 million annually worth of security contracts in hostile, austere environments, with at least 50 personnel deployed, among others. Beyond experience and stability, the State Department can evaluate whether they have:
- Adequate financial resources or financing
- The ability to perform within the required period
- A “satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics”
- The “necessary organization, experience, and skills or the ability to obtain them”
- “Necessary equipment and facilities or the ability to obtain them”
- Must be “otherwise qualified and eligible to receive an award under applicable laws and regulations”
The 8 firms above are deemed to have met those criteria, and also to have qualified under the clauses surrounding past performance:
“The Government will use past performance information primarily to assess an offeror’s capability to meet the solicitation performance requirements, including the relevance and currency of the offeror’s work experience and that of its subcontractors The Government may also use this data to evaluate the credibility of the offeror’s proposal. The Government may use past performance information obtained from sources other than those identified by the offeror. In addition, the Contracting Officer may use past performance information in making a determination of responsibility.
In evaluating past performance, the Government will consider the available information and give it such weight as it deems reasonable based on the currency and relevance of the information. Favorable and unfavorable references for an offeror will not be averaged. One significant unfavorable reference, if deemed by the Government to be reliable and relevant to performance of the solicited services, may be the basis for a negative evaluation notwithstanding other information. If the offeror has no relevant past performance or if past performance information is not available, the offeror will receive a neutral rating.”
The contracts may yet become a lightning rod for further controversy, or that controversy may find itself eclipsed by other issues, and fade into the background. Until the next flare-up, of course.
- US FedBizOpps (April 22/10, multiple amendments, #SAQMMA10R0005-A) – The Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) program provides comprehensive protective security services to support U.S. Department of State operations around the world. Awarded Sept 29/10.
- US Department of State – FY 2010 WPS budget request details & justification [PDF]
- WIRED Danger Room (Oct 1/10) – Exclusive: Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal
- G4S (July 4/10) – Afghan Appeal Results. See Reuters’ “Afghan appeals court acquits former British soldier” for more.
- DID (Oct 27/09) – Triple Canopy’s Catch-22 in Iraq
- Washington Independent (Oct 9/09) – Whistleblowers Unveil More ArmorGroup Allegations. The firm was acquired by G4S plc in April 2008.
- DID (Sept 19/07) – Blackwater’s Iraq License Suspended