GSA Schedule Debriefing Doesn’t Extend Protest Time Frame, GAO Says

You’ve submitted a great proposal, but then you get the bad news – you lost. As most seasoned contractors know, an unsuccessful offeror often can ask for a debriefing from the agency and in doing so, hopefully get some valuable insight into its decision-making process. Many also understand that the benefits of asking for a debriefing may include extending the timeline for filing a GAO bid protest.

But not all solicitations are subject to the same debriefing regulations, and depending on how the procurement was conducted, an offeror might not be entitled to that extended deadline–as one company recently learned the hard way in the context of a GSA Schedule procurement.

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Past Performance Reference From Sister Company Was “Inherently Biased”

In its evaluation of past performance, an agency was permitted to disregard a past performance reference prepared by an offeror’s sister company–which also happened to be in line for a subcontracting role.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO upheld the agency’s determination that the sister company’s reference was “inherently biased” and need not be considered in the agency’s past performance evaluation.

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Eagle Eye: Government May Slip a Sole-Source Award Past an Unaware Contractor

Contractors would be wise to keep a close watch on FedBizOpps.gov, otherwise they run the risk missing the chance to protest a sole source award.

When an agency decides to make an award without competition, it often must publish a Justification and Approval (referred to simply as a “J&A”) on FedBizOpps explaining why a competition would not meet the agency’s needs. A potential competitor seeking to protest such an award at the GAO must file the protest before 10 days have passed from publication of the J&A, otherwise the protest may be untimely. A competitor that is not paying attention could be out of luck.

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Agency Creates Fake Source Selection Documents

An agency has been caught creating fake source selection documents to pad its file in response to several GAO bid protests.

A recent GAO bid protest decision shows that, after award, the agency created new source selection documents and revised others, then pretended those documents had been part of the contemporaneous source selection file.  And although the agency’s conduct resulted in the cancellation of a major procurement, it’s not clear whether the agency employees who created the fake documents will face any punishment.

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Hiring Incumbent Employees At Low Labor Rates–What Could Go Wrong?

A company bidding to replace an incumbent service contractor cannot presume incumbent workers will take major pay cuts without setting itself up for a potentially successful protest.

FAR 22.12 generally requires successor service contractors to give a right of first refusal to qualified employees under the previous contract. And even when these nondisplacement rules don’t apply, many offerors’ proposals tout their efforts to retain incumbent employees. But asking incumbent employees to take significant pay cuts–and expecting them to accept–is unreasonable and can torpedo a proposal. Case in point: GAO sustained a protest recently against an awardee who had proposed high retention rate of incumbent workers, but lower pay for those positions.

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Small Business Goaling: Army Evaluation Offers Lesson For SBA

Last month, I wrote that the SBA shouldn’t have awarded the government an “A” for its FY 2016 small business goaling achievement.  Even though the government exceeded the 23% small business goal, it missed the WOSB and HUBZone goals (the latter by a lot).

In a different context, a recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal evaluation offers a grading lesson for the SBA.  In that case, the Corps assigned a large prime offeror a middling “Acceptable” score for small business participation where the offeror proposed to meet the contract’s overall small business subcontracting goal, but not the SDB, WOSB, HUBZone, VOSB and SDVOSB goals.

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GAO: Late Is Late–Even If Agency Server Malfunctions

You’ve hit send on that electronic proposal, hours before the deadline and now you can sit back and feel confident that you’ve done everything in your power – at least it won’t be rejected as untimely – right?

Not so fast. If an electronically submitted proposal gets delayed, the proposal may be rejected–even if the delay could have been caused by malfunctioning government equipment. In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO continued a recent pattern of ruling against protesters whose electronic proposals are delayed. And in this case, the GAO ruled against the protester even though the protester contended that an agency server malfunction had caused the delay.

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