GAO Task Order Jurisdiction: “Scope” Exception Is Narrow

As I have previously written, the GAO lacks authority to hear bid protests of task orders valued at less than $10 million, except if the protester can show that the order increases the scope, period, or maximum value of the contract against which the order was issued.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the “scope” exception applies only if the task order changes the underlying scope of work–denying the protester’s argument that any task order that is not evaluated in accordance with the contract’s requirements necessarily goes beyond the contract’s scope.

The GAO’s decision in Colette, Inc.–Request for Reconsideration, B-407561.2 (Jan. 3, 2013) involved an Army task order award for simulation scenarios at training sites.  The amount of the task order was $1,139,775.

An unsuccessful offeror, Colette, Inc., filed a GAO bid protest challenging the award.  Colette argued that the Army’s evaluation and source selection process had suffered from numerous errors.

In October 2012, the GAO dismissed the protest.  In dismissing the protest, the GAO stated that it does not have jurisdiction to review protests of task orders valued at less than $10 million, unless the protester can show that the order increases the scope, period or maximum value of the contract against which the order was issued.

Colette then filed a request for reconsideration, asking the GAO to revisit its decision.  Colette repeated an argument it had made previously: that because the Army’s source selection process allegedly did not comply with the evaluation criteria set forth in the underlying IDIQ contract, the resulting task order necessarily exceeded the scope of the contract.

The GAO made short work of the reconsideration request.  “The protester’s reconsideration request demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what is meant by ‘exceeding the scope’ of the underlying IDIQ contract,” the GAO wrote.  Contrary to Colette’s position, “we have consistently understood ‘scope’ to refer to the scope of work authorized in the underlying contract.”

The GAO concluded, “we find the protester’s expansive definition of ‘scope’ to be without support in the statutory text, legislative history or case law, and would render the task order protest bar meaningless.”  The GAO dismissed the request for reconsideration.

As the Colette GAO bid protest decision demonstrates, the GAO’s authority to hear bid protests of task orders valued at less than $10 million remains narrow–and a creative “scope” argument is not enough to clear the jurisdictional bar.

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