GAO: Competition Alone Doesn’t Mean Prices are Reasonable

When the federal government awards a contract, the government must ensure that the price it pays is “fair and reasonable.”  In other words, the government cannot pay a price that is too high.

If a contract is awarded on the basis of competitive proposals, an agency may be able to establish price reasonableness by comparing the prices proposed by competing offerors.  But as demonstrated in a recent GAO bid protest decision, competition alone doesn’t mean that the prices received are reasonable–the government still must compare offerors’ prices to determine reasonableness.

Continue reading

GAO: WOSB Set-Asides and Sole Sources are Discretionary, not Mandatory

Historically, Uncle Sam has struggled to meet its WOSB contracting goals. It wasn’t until 2015, in fact, that the government first met its WOSB contracting goal and, since then, has continued to struggle to meet it.

Thankfully, agencies are authorized to use set-asides and sole-source awards to increase WOSB participation. But as a recent GAO decision shows, an agency isn’t required to use either procedure.

Continue reading

GAO Recommends Successful Protester Be Placed in MATOC Pool

Multiple-award task-order contracts are becoming an increasingly common feature of government contracting, and many carry very high ceiling values. This places participation in MATOC awards at a premium.

Unsurprisingly, base MATOC awards are being protested with some frequency before GAO. In a recent decision, GAO provided a unique solution for sustaining MATOC protests without causing substantial disruptions: simply adding the successful protester to the pool.

Continue reading

Protester Must Wait for Conclusion of Extended Debriefing to Protest, Says GAO

As those familiar with government contracts are undoubtedly aware, ensuring a bid protest is timely filed with GAO is a paramount consideration. GAO takes a particularly dim view of protests not filed in accordance with its timeliness regulations, which can encourage parties to file a protest as quickly as possible. As GAO recently explained, however, in the context of extended debriefings, there is such a thing as filing too soon.

Continue reading

When You Assume: Proposals Don’t Automatically Include “Industry Standards”

When preparing a proposal for a Government solicitation, ensuring that your product or service meets all of the requirements specified by the Government’s solicitation is essential. Simple enough, right?

Not necessarily. One of the most frequent pitfalls in proposal preparation is assuming the Government understands your products and industry as well as you do, which may not be the case.  A recent GAO bid protest demonstrates that a “well-written proposal” sometimes must include information that a contractor might expect the Government evaluation team ought to know.

Continue reading

GAO: No Attorneys’ Fees When Arguing that Corrective Action is a Ruse

When pursuing a bid protest before the Government Accountability Office, it is never a good idea to presume that you’ll get your attorneys’ fees paid by the agency.

If you are fortunate enough to recover attorneys’ fees, GAO’s general standard is to recommend paying the fees associated with all the protest grounds being pursued, whether or not they were meritorious. But although this is the general posture, it is not always the case.

Continue reading

Small Business Set-Asides Not Required Under NETCENTS-2, Says GAO

The Air Force’s large NETCENTS-2 IDIQ vehicle did not require orders to be set-aside under the small business pool, except for orders valued between the micro-purchase threshold and simplified acquisition threshold.

In a recent decision, the GAO held that although the NETCENTS-2 contract in question says that Contracting Officers “should” perform a “rule of two” small business set-aside analysis for orders valued over the simplified acquisition threshold, it does not require that such an analysis be performed–meaning that Contracting Officers can validly award such orders to large businesses, even if two or more small business NETCENTS-2 holders exist.

Continue reading