The Air Force has suspended its contracts with reverse-auction company Fedbid and is proposing the company be barred from future contracts.
The new action stems from a Sept. 26 Veterans Affairs Department inspector general report detailing efforts by FedBid to discredit a senior VA official and push Congress to launch investigations in order to secure a reverse-auction contract.
Susan Taylor, at the time the deputy chief procurement officer at the Veterans Health Administration at the VA, ended up stepping down over allegations she improperly tried to steer a contract to FedBid.
The Air Force suspension notice posted on SAM.gov rests the action on a “lack of business honesty or integrity” as one of the reasons for possible debarment. The time frame is indefinite pending a final decision.
“While we are disappointed by this action, we have reached out to officials at the Air Force and are cooperating fully with their ongoing process, including providing them with details of the significant steps we have taken to address concerns raised in the VA OIG report,” FedBid CEO Jim Jordan said in a statement.
Jordan said the company took the IG report seriously and conducted an independent review of all the matters referenced in the report.. The company then strengthened its ethics and compliance program and provided ethics counseling to all employees.
But FedBid stresses that its independent review found no legal wrongdoing by the company, according to a fact sheet provided by FedBid.
Jan Frye, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Acquisition and Logistics a the VA, heard complaints from VA employees about Taylor’s aggressive push for FedBid even as the agency was creating its own reverse auction platform and decided to issue a moratorium on the use of FedBid in 2012, according to the report.
FedBid former president Glenn Richardson wrote in an email to other FedBid executives that they needed to assassinate Frye’s character and discredit him, the IG wrote. He said FedBid should work to demonstrate that Frye was acting unprofessionally and that his decision to issue a moratorium on using FedBid was “malicious and arbitrary.”