Court Denies Protest of Procurement, Holds Dept. of Education Had Rational Basis

The Court of Federal Claims recently wrote that “[t]here is no such thing as a perfect procurement.” To anyone familiar with federal government contracts, this commentary states the obvious. But springing from the Court’s observation is another important reality: “a flawed procurement is not necessarily an illegal one.”

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2020 NDAA: Contractors Supplying Technical Data to Receive Protection of Data Rights During Challenges, Again

The draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, if enacted, will revoke the government’s ability to exercise rights in technical data during a supplier’s challenge to the contracting officer’s decision as to the validity of the asserted “use or release restrictions” on that data. It would reinstate the previous safeguard afforded to data suppliers, allowing them to protect their valuable–and often irreplaceable–intellectual property rights unless and until the contracting officer’s decision to remove the restrictions is sustained.

Keep in mind, this is just a draft provision, as the Senate version of the 2020 NDAA doesn’t contain the provision discussed in this blog.

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COFC Clarifies When Agency Must Seek Clarification

Agencies have some discretion to seek clarification of a question after reviewing a proposal. But when must the agency do so? GAO allows agencies substantial discretion in choosing whether or not to seek proposal clarifications. But the Court of Federal Claims has a dramatically different standard than GAO for reviewing when an agency must seek clarification for a proposal.

A recent Court of Federal Claims decision confirms (as in a 2016 decision) that agencies should seek clarification for obvious proposal errors. But according to the court, there is a difference between an obvious proposal error and a calculated decision on the contractor’s part. This decision was about how to tell the difference.

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Court of Federal Claims Decision Lends Support to VA’s SDVOSB Tiered Evaluation Scheme

In late 2017, we wrote that the VA was considering using tiered evaluations to simultaneously 1) comply with the VA’s statutory Rule of Two (and Kingdomware), and 2) address situations in which SDVOSBs and VOSBs might not offer “fair and reasonable” pricing.

Since then, the VA has instituted the tiered evaluation process for certain solicitations, using one of three approaches:

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SCOTUS to Hear Arguments on Agency Power

Oral arguments are to be held today (March 27, 2019) on a U.S. Supreme Court case that may dramatically reduce federal agency power.

The case, Kisor v. Wilkie, asks the Supreme Court to overturn longstanding precedent which established that an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation deserves deference so long as it is reasonable. If the Supreme Court overturns this precedent, it could change the balance of power—in favor of government contractors—in certain disputes with agencies.

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Offeror Provides Only First Pages of Teaming Agreements, Gets “Marginal” Score

An offeror provided a procuring agency with only the first pages of its teaming agreements with proposed subcontractors–and received a “Marginal” score on the small business participation factor as a result.

In a recent decision, the Court of Federal Claims held that the agency reasonably downgraded the offeror for failing to provide its entire teaming agreements, saying that the agency correctly determined that it was unable to determine what work would be performed by the subcontractors.

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COFC Dismisses Claim for Failure to State Dollar Amount, Despite Claimant’s Attempt to Camouflage Claim

A government contractor must include certain details in a certified claim, including a sum certain, signature, and a request for a final decision. With regards to the “sum certain,” a contractor cannot avoid this requirement by attempting to portray its claim as one not for monetary relief, when the contractor is really just asking for money.

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