W2I Protests New Lottery Contract Solicitation
Just in case you were wondering, this lottery contract business isn't going to get resolved anytime soon.
W2I, originally awarded the contract last year, has filed a protest to the rebid on the contract issued earlier this month. The upshot: The protest holds that a recent rebid should be halted, but for the time being, it will proceed, says David Umansky, spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
What brought us here? Long story short:
Early last year, W2I was determined by OCFO to have won the contract to run the D.C. Lottery, beating out Lottery Technology Enterprises, which has held the contract for more than 25 years. But when the contract went to the D.C. Council for approval, it became a political hot potato, with W2I and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on one side (the local partners are Fenty supporters Warren and Alaka Williams) and LTE (headed by connected businessman Leonard Manning) and Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray and Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham on the other. Last December, the council essentially voted to reject the contract, and in February the city canceled the original solicitation.
That cleared the way for a new solicitation, which was issued earlier this month. The new request for proposals changes the rules on which bids will be judged, leading to claims that the contract is being steered to LTE. And now comes the W2I protest of that solicitation.
This latest maneuver is part of what LL is told is thus far a $1.5 million campaign by W2I to enforce the original contract. The partnership has hired high-powered law firm Jones Day to press its case. That includes a Contract Appeals Board protest filed this spring, which argues that the contract never should have gone to the D.C. Council in the first place and, furthermore, that the council did not reject the contract on the proper basis. That protest is still pending, and it's on those grounds that this week's protest was filed. Since the original contract award is still under dispute, W2I's lawyers hold, a replacement bid can't be considered under District contracting law.
That OCFO plans to proceed with the rebid is puzzling, says spokesperson Crystal Wright, who represents W2I partner Intralot. "It's whether or not they're going to abide by the rules....The D.C. Code is very clear on this."
Will this whole thing be settled when the CAB rules on W2I's protests? Perhaps not: In a February letter to OCFO protesting the cancellation of the original solicitation, a W2I lawyer said his client "will be compelled to seek its full measure of redress from the courts."
Meanwhile, the lottery remains in the hands of LTE—a vendor assessed $1.4 million in fines for performance breakdowns. Those fees, Umansky says, have yet to be paid.