Agency Doesn’t Make SBA COC Referral; GAO Sustains Protest

A procuring agency erred by essentially assigning a small business a failing past performance score without referring the matter to the SBA.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the assignment of a failing past performance score under a past/fail system constituted a non-responsibility determination–and that the SBA was entitled to review the agency’s determination under the SBA’s Certificate of Competency procedures.

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PTAC Spotlight: Washington PTAC Offers Broad Experience

Small businesses in Washington State are in luck: a highly experienced PTAC team is available to assist contractors with the ins and outs of federal contracting.

The Washington PTAC currently consists of 14 team members, several of whom were government contracting officers before joining PTAC.  This depth and breadth of knowledge allows the Washington PTAC to provide small businesses with practical advice stemming from real-world experience.

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Proposal In Government Mailroom Was Still “Late”

Even if a proposal arrives in a government mailroom by the submittal deadline, the proposal is nevertheless “late” if it does not reach the location specified in the solicitation by the designated time.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO reaffirmed long-standing precedent that “receipt of a bid or proposal at a mailroom or other receiving area does not constitute receipt at the location specified in the RFP, provided the agency has established reasonable procedures to ensure that mailed bids or proposals are routed from the mailroom to the location designated in a solicitation for receipt.”

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Task Orders: Small Business Set-Asides Not Required, Says GAO

When issuing task order solicitations under unrestricted multiple award contracts, procuring agencies are not required to apply the so-called “rule of two” and set aside task orders for small businesses.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO–over the objections of the SBA–held that agencies “may,” but need not, set aside task orders under multiple-award contracts.  The GAO’s decision essentially overturns a 2008 decision in which the GAO held that the rule of two does require agencies to set aside task orders.

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GAO Bid Protests: “Sustains” Lower But “Effectiveness” Steady

The GAO sustained only 13% of bid protests in Fiscal Year 2014, down from 17% in the previous fiscal year.

But although some commentators might interpret the numbers as a sign that more non-meritorious protests were filed, the “effectiveness rate” (which measures sustain decisions plus voluntary agency corrective actions) remained steady at 43%.  In other words, agencies are taking corrective action more frequently in response to GAO bid protests–but when the agency doesn’t take corrective action, the protester’s odds of success may be long.

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Anti-Kickback Act Settlement Costs Contractor $2.72 Million

A New York contractor has agreed to pay $2.72 million to resolve claims that it violated the Anti-Kickback Act and False Claims Act in connection with its prime contract work on an EPA facility.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Sevenson Environmental Services Inc. accepted more than $1.6 million in kickbacks from six subcontractors, then passed the majority of those kickbacks through to the EPA.

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Thank You, New Mexico!

I am back in Lawrence after a trip to the Southwest, where I spoke at the Holloman Air Force Base Industry Day in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  My morning session addressed communicating with contracting officers, and my afternoon session covered teaming and joint venturing on set-aside contracts.  During lunch, I also gave a brief update on recent government contracting legal developments.

A big “thank you” to the New Mexico Procurement Technical Assistance Program and New Mexico Small Business Development Center for inviting me to be a part of this great event.  And thank you to all of the contractors (small and large) and industry professionals who attended my sessions, asked excellent questions, and shared their own experiences.

It has been a busy year of travel and I am not quite done yet.  Next month, I will be in Atlanta for the National Veterans Small Business Engagement.  I hope to see you there.