Task Orders: Small Business Set-Asides Not Required, Says GAO

When issuing task order solicitations under unrestricted multiple award contracts, procuring agencies are not required to apply the so-called “rule of two” and set aside task orders for small businesses.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO–over the objections of the SBA–held that agencies “may,” but need not, set aside task orders under multiple-award contracts.  The GAO’s decision essentially overturns a 2008 decision in which the GAO held that the rule of two does require agencies to set aside task orders.

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GAO Bid Protests: “Sustains” Lower But “Effectiveness” Steady

The GAO sustained only 13% of bid protests in Fiscal Year 2014, down from 17% in the previous fiscal year.

But although some commentators might interpret the numbers as a sign that more non-meritorious protests were filed, the “effectiveness rate” (which measures sustain decisions plus voluntary agency corrective actions) remained steady at 43%.  In other words, agencies are taking corrective action more frequently in response to GAO bid protests–but when the agency doesn’t take corrective action, the protester’s odds of success may be long.

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Anti-Kickback Act Settlement Costs Contractor $2.72 Million

A New York contractor has agreed to pay $2.72 million to resolve claims that it violated the Anti-Kickback Act and False Claims Act in connection with its prime contract work on an EPA facility.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Sevenson Environmental Services Inc. accepted more than $1.6 million in kickbacks from six subcontractors, then passed the majority of those kickbacks through to the EPA.

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Thank You, New Mexico!

I am back in Lawrence after a trip to the Southwest, where I spoke at the Holloman Air Force Base Industry Day in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  My morning session addressed communicating with contracting officers, and my afternoon session covered teaming and joint venturing on set-aside contracts.  During lunch, I also gave a brief update on recent government contracting legal developments.

A big “thank you” to the New Mexico Procurement Technical Assistance Program and New Mexico Small Business Development Center for inviting me to be a part of this great event.  And thank you to all of the contractors (small and large) and industry professionals who attended my sessions, asked excellent questions, and shared their own experiences.

It has been a busy year of travel and I am not quite done yet.  Next month, I will be in Atlanta for the National Veterans Small Business Engagement.  I hope to see you there.

Extreme Weather Didn’t Excuse Late Proposal

With winter weather descending on much of the country, it is all the more important for contractors to ensure that their proposals are submitted with time to spare.

In a recent bid protest decision, the Court of Federal Claims held that extreme weather at an offeror’s location did not excuse the offeror’s failure to deliver a timely proposal because there was no interruption of “normal government processes” at the government location designated to receive proposals.

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WOSB Program: Certification Oversight Lacking, Says GAO

The SBA performs only “minimal oversight” of third-party certifiers for the woman-owned small business program, and thus “lacks reasonable assurance that only eligible businesses receive WOSB set-aside contracts,” says the GAO in a recent report on the WOSB Program.

The GAO report identifies numerous weaknesses in the WOSB certification system, and provides a number of recommendations to strengthen WOSB Program oversight.

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Size Protests: Only SBA Can Grant Extension To Response Deadline

Only the SBA has the power to grant an extension to the short time deadline for a company to respond to a SBA size protest.

As demonstrated in a recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision, although the SBA’s practice is to require the procuring agency to grant a concurrent extension, the procuring agency’s agreement alone–in the absence of a corresponding SBA extension–will not permit a protested company to file a late response.

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