Army miscues blamed for McCann dismissal from $4b account pitch

In newly released details of last month's decision to sustain McCann's protest of its dismissal from the lucrative pitch, the GAO cited several mistakes made by the Armed Forces branch. Weber Shandwick has worked with McCann on the account.

(By Specialist Steven Hitchcock, U.S. Army -, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
(By Specialist Steven Hitchcock, U.S. Army -, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON: McCann won the protest of its elimination from the U.S. Army’s 10-figure marketing services RFP because technical errors in its proposal were the fault of the Armed Forces branch, according to Government Accountability Office documents.

The GAO detailed the largely formatting-related issues that caused McCann's initial elimination on Tuesday. In one instance, McCann submitted its cost-price proposal in PDF format, rather than in an Excel spreadsheet. In another, the agency did not include a specific attachment in its proposal that needed to be evaluated by another government agency. The Army also claimed it was confused about the identity of the firm, which was identified as "McCann-Erickson U.S.A., Inc., d/b/a McCann Worldgroup."

The GAO ruled in favor of McCann because the solicitation did not specifically state that a proposal could be dismissed based on formatting or technical issues without first being evaluated for its content.

"The solicitation’s evaluation criteria did not place offerors on notice that the agency simply would reject proposals without first performing a substantive evaluation," the GAO stated in its decision.

It also said that mistakes in the proposal were due to several factors, including the Army providing incorrect information, misunderstanding the proposal, and not asking for clarifying information.

The GAO’s decision, issued last month with few details made public, stated that the Army should review McCann’s proposal again "in a manner that is consistent with the terms of the solicitation." It also recommended that McCann be reimbursed for its legal fees and costs related to filing the protest.

Several Interpublic Group firms have been working on the Army advertising account, including McCann and Weber Shandwick. The contract, which was issued in January, is valued at up to $4 billion over its 10-year length.

In August, the Army extended its previous marketing and advertising contract with McCann, which the firm has held since 2005. The current pact is set to end in September 2018.

"The GAO on September 19 sustained a bid protest filed by McCann-Erickson, U.S.A. Inc. and recommended that the Mission and Installation Contracting Command re-evaluate a proposal submitted by McCann-Erickson," said Daniel Elkins, deputy director of the public affairs office of the U.S. Army’s Office of Public and Congressional Affairs. "The government will comply with the GAO decision, however, because it is an ongoing source selection. Additional details cannot be disclosed."

Representatives from McCann could not be immediately reached for comment. A Weber representative deferred comment to the Army.

This story was updated on October 3 with comment from the U.S. Army.

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