The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday rejected a protest by IBM Corp. [IBM] of a $47.8 million task order award to Accenture [ACN] by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for information technology support of the agency’s passenger and crew vetting system.

IBM, the incumbent contractor for support of the Secure Flight program, twice protested the award, most recently last November after TSA upheld the task order contract with Accenture. The award was made under the EAGLE II contract.

TSA photo

IBM originally protested that TSA failed to investigate an alleged violation of the Procurement Integrity Act, but the GAO dismissed the protest due to TSA initiating an investigation of the potential violation and also denied other allegations made by IBM. After TSA upheld the award saying there was no evidence that the law was violated, IBM protested the “adequacy of TSA’s investigation and the reasonableness” of its decision to award the task order to Accenture,” GAO says in the decision brief.

IBM maintained in both protests that an employee of one of its subcontractors for the Secure Flight work obtained the company’s bid and proposal information and shared it with Accenture. IBM also alleged that Accenture knew, or should have known, that the subcontractor employee was subject to a non-disclosure agreement and that therefore Accenture violated the Procurement Integrity Act.

The GAO found that IBM “voluntarily provided its confidential information” to the subcontractor employee, that there was no government misconduct and that TSA’s investigation into IBM’s allegations of misconduct by the employee and Accenture was adequate.

The Secure Flight watchlist is used by TSA to ensure that passengers and crew members who that are known or suspected terrorists are not allowed to board flights into, out of, and within the U.S.