GAO: Agency Properly Refused SBA COC Time Extension

A contracting agency is not required withhold a contract award so that the SBA has more time to process a Certificate of Competency, even when the SBA itself asks for an extension.

The Government Accountability Office decided recently that it was reasonable for an agency to move ahead with an award while the SBA was still in the process of determining the competency of a small business that lost out on the contract.

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Offeror’s Winning Bid Of $0.00 Was Acceptable, Says GAO

Under certain circumstances, the winning bidder on a fixed-price contract may offer $0.00.

In a recent decision, LCPtracker, Inc.; eMars, Inc., B-410752.3 et al (Sept. 3, 2015), the GAO held an offeror submitting a zero-dollar offer (that is, an offer for $0.00) was eligible to receive a fixed-price contract because both the Government and the contractor would receive benefits under the contract.

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GAO: Rule Of Two Analysis Not Required For Exercise Of “In Scope” Options

The Small Business Act envisions that small businesses will be awarded a “fair proportion” of government contracts. To meet this goal, the FAR instructs agencies to set aside for small businesses acquisitions over $150,000 if there is a reasonable expectation that offers will be received from at least two responsible small businesses, at fair market prices.

While the Rule of Two is powerful, it does not extend to all procurement actions. A recent GAO case illustrates an important exception to the Rule of Two. In Walker Development & Trading Group—Reconsideration, B-411246.2 (Sept. 14, 2015), the GAO held that an agency need not conduct a Rule of Two analysis before exercising an option in accordance with the terms of an existing contract.

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Small Business Set-Aside Decisions May Include Restrictive “Capability” Requirements

The small business set-aside “rule of two” is not satisfied unless the procuring agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving proposals from at least two small businesses capable of performing the work.

Although this sounds like a commonsense interpretation of the rule of two, it may give agencies leeway to define “capability” in manner that eliminates small businesses from participation.  In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that an agency appropriately issued a solicitation as unrestricted based on the agency’s determination that there were not two or more small businesses with at least five years of relevant experience. Of concern, the GAO did not require the agency to prove that five years of relevant experience was necessary to render a firm “capable” of performing the contract.

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GAO: If Price Realism Will Be Evaluated, Offerors Must Be Notified

Agencies must notify offerors when price realism will be evaluated under a fixed price solicitation.

Recently, the GAO sustained a protest where a procuring agency rejected an offeror’s proposal because the offeror’s quoted prices were significantly lower than the government’s estimate–even though the solicitation did not notify offerors that price realism would be evaluated.

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Agency’s “Cut-And-Paste” Proposal Evaluation Upheld

An agency’s evaluation of proposals was not improper even though the Source Selection Authority “cut and paste” portions of a selection document used in a similar procurement–including typographical errors and a reference to a firm that had not submitted a proposal.

The GAO’s recent decision highlights an uncomfortable truth of government contracting: while the government can (and often does) demand nearly perfect proposals, the government may be able to get by with sloppy or lazy evaluations.

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VA Doesn’t Issue SDVOSB Set-Aside, Protest Sustained

The VA’s decision not to issue a SDVOSB set-aside was improper because the VA adopted an unreasonably narrow approach to determining whether two or more SDVOSBs were likely to submit proposals.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the VA’s narrow market research did not support its set-aside determination.  And in so holding, the GAO reaffirmed its position that the VA must put “veterans first” in federal procurements.

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