GAO Reviews Agency Actions in the Wake of Equifax Data Breach

It’s easy to forget that roughly a year ago, Equifax was hacked, which compromised the personal information of roughly 145.5 million individuals. The scope of the breach was concerning for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Equifax was providing identity verification services for three federal agencies at the time it was attacked.

In a recent report, GAO reviewed how these agencies responded to the attack. While not making any specific recommendations at this time, GAO’s report does highlight the extent to which federal agencies were not fully prepared for cyberattacks on private contractors.

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GAO: Protest Sustained Where Agency Improperly Applied Adjectival Ratings

Recently, GAO sustained a bid protest where the ratings assigned to the unsuccessful offeror’s proposal did not conform to the definitions identified within the Solicitation.

For those of you frequent the blog, you may recall earlier this year when we blogged on GAO’s decision in Immersion Consulting, LLC, B-415155 et al. (Dec. 4, 2017) where the Source Selection Authority had unilaterally revised the Source Selection Evaluation Board’s evaluation prior to making an award decision. GAO sustained the protest and instructed the agency to reevaluate proposals. This same procurement was subject to another round of protests following the agency’s reevaluation.

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GAO: Agency’s Reevaluation Didn’t Address “Widespread Discrepancies” in Awardee’s Proposal

When an agency reevaluates proposals in response to a protest, the reevaluation must be thorough and reasonable.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, GAO sustained a protest because the agency’s reevaluation of proposals, undertaken after a protest was sustained, did not reasonably address “widespread discrepancies” in the awardee’s proposal.

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OHA Lacks Jurisdiction to Hear HUBZone Status Appeals

While the SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals hears appeals for many of the SBA’s programs, there are certain decisions that remain outside of its purview.

As one protester was surprised to learn, among those items outside of OHA’s jurisdiction are appeals of the HUBZone status determinations.

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Voluntary Protest Withdrawal Following Outcome Prediction ADR Precludes Later Refiling, Says GAO

GAO’s outcome prediction alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) can be a tempting option for all parties to a protest, as it provides a preview of sorts for GAO’s written decision. A recent GAO decision, however, underscores that despite its relative informality, outcome prediction ADR can have significant repercussions on future protest developments.

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Bundling Didn’t Allow Agency to Purchase FSS Open Market Items, GAO Says

An agency cannot buy “Open Market” items from a Federal Supply Schedule vendor when the same items are readily available under another vendor’s FSS contract–even if the vendor selling Open Market items offers them as a discounted bundle and the FSS vendor does not.

In a recent decision, GAO held that it was improper for an agency to buy bundled software packages as Open Market items when another vendor sold the same licenses on its FSS contract as four separate items. 

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SDVOSB Set-Aside or Not? GAO Sustains Protest of Ambiguous VA Solicitation

A  procurement may not be set aside for SDVOSB concerns without also including mandatory VA set-aside VAAR provisions, including the limitation on subcontracting.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that a solicitation was flawed where the cover sheet indicated that the solicitation would be set aside for SDVOSBs, but the solicitation omitted the mandatory VAAR SDVOSB set-aside clause.

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