Agencies May Use “On-Ramps” Under BPAs, GAO Confirms

When an agency solicits competitive proposals to establish multiple blanket purchase agreements, the agency may include “on-ramp” procedures to potentially award additional BPAs at a later date.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that the FAR allows agencies to use on-ramp procedures to add additional BPAs–and that on-ramped BPA holders don’t enjoy an inherent unfair competitive advantage, at least not under the facts at issue.

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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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GAO: Agency Shouldn’t Have Allowed Bid Correction

When a contractor submits a sealed bid that includes a mistake, the contractor may be allowed to correct its bid, if there must be clear evidence of the error on the face of the bid.

According to a recent GAO decision, however, absent clear evidence, it is unreasonable for an agency to allow a bid correction.

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Strict GAO Timeliness Rules Apply to Supplemental Protests

GAO interprets its bid protest timeliness rules very strictly, as readers of this blog will know. These timeliness rules typically pertain to the initial protest, but are equally important when a protester files a supplemental protest. Often, supplemental protests are filed after the protester receives the agency’s response and comes to learn new information that wasn’t previously available.

If a supplemental protest raises allegations independent of those set forth in the initial protest, the supplemental protest must independently satisfy GAO’s strict timeliness rules. A recent GAO decision shows how easy it can be to slip up on these deadlines when considering a supplemental protest.

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GAO: Evaluation of Affiliate’s Past Performance is Optional

In its past performance evaluation, an agency typically can consider the past performance of an offeror’s affiliate, so long as the offeror’s proposal demonstrates that the resources of the affiliate will affect contract performance.

But, as demonstrated in a recent GAO decision involving an Alaska Native Corporation subsidiary, ordinarily there is no requirement that an agency consider an affiliate’s past performance.  In other words, unless the solicitation speaks to the issue, the agency’s consideration of an affiliate’s past performance is optional.

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Agencies Cannot Circumvent AbilityOne by Bundling, GAO Confirms

The FAR mandates that agencies use the AbilityOne program to award contracts for items on the AbilityOne procurement list to qualified nonprofits. The purpose of the program is to increase employment and training opportunities for persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

With rare exceptions, when an item is on the AbilityOne procurement list, an agency has no choice–it must purchase through AbilityOne, even where the AbilityOne items are included in the procurement of larger services.  The GAO recently sustained a protest where the GSA awarded a courthouse lease without requiring that the associated custodial services be procured from an AbilityOne nonprofit.

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SSA vs. SSEB: Protest Sustained Where Ratings Changes Weren’t Reasonable

In a best value acquisition, the final decision is typically made by a Source Selection Authority. But what happens when the SSA disagrees with the ratings assigned by the evaluators, such as a Source Selection Evaluation Board?

The SSA has a good deal of discretion, but that discretion isn’t unlimited. In a recent decision, GAO sustained a protest where the SSA’s disagreements with the SSEB didn’t appear to be reasonable. 

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