GAO denies Equifax dispute of IRS contract

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Equifax headquarters is pictured here. | AP Photo

Equifax has come under fire since it admitted last month that hackers broke into its network earlier this year and compromised the information of as many as 145.5 million Americans. | Mike Stewart/AP

The Government Accountability Office Monday denied a contract bid protest brought by Equifax as the much-criticized credit reporting agency fought to hold on to a deal helping the IRS prevent identity fraud.

After a 100-day review, the GAO determined that the IRS was justified in its decision to award the one-year blanket purchase agreement to rival Experian, according to a statement. Equifax tried to argue that its competitor did not have the technical chops to meet the IRS’ needs.

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The one-year agreement with rival Experian, who hadn’t been named publicly, is worth up to $795,000, according to the GAO. That’s significantly less than the $7.25 million, no-bid contract that the IRS awarded to Equifax last month, which would have provided the same service over nine months.

The IRS and Equifax did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Equifax has come under fire since it admitted last month that hackers broke into its network earlier this year and compromised the information of as many as 145.5 million Americans. The IRS has used the company to verify taxpayer IDs when they create accounts on its website, but opted to shift that work to Experian over the summer. Equifax protested the move.

The dispute prompted the IRS to award a short-term, fraud-prevention contract worth $7.25 million to Equifax just weeks after the breach was revealed — a decision that rattled lawmakers of both parties when it was first reported by POLITICO. The IRS later temporarily suspended that contract while the agency continued to review the security of Equifax’s systems.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/16/gao-equifax-irs-contract-243824

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