GAO Sustains An Aldevra Protest (Again)

The original Rocky was popular with audiences and critics alike, rating as the highest-grossing film of 1976 and picking up three Oscars, including Best Picture.  But by the time the franchise reached Rocky V in 1990, the ongoing sequels had become something of a joke.  In a Washington Post review, critic Desson Howe opened with: “Moments after that brutal bout with Dolph Lundgren in “Rocky IV” — and you did watch “Rocky IV,” didn’t you? — Sly Stallone mistakes his wife for his dead boxing coach. This is not a good sign, even for the Rockster.”

Like the Rocky series, the fight between Aldevra and the VA keeps spawning sequels.  For service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, the good news is that Aldevra has won yet another GAO bid protest, challenging the VA’s refusal to consider a SDVOSB set-aside before procuring equipment from the GSA Schedule.  The bad news is that the sequels keep coming, with no sign that the VA will back down.

The GAO’s decision in Aldevra, B-406608; B-406655; B-406656 (July 13, 2012) involved a VA solicitation for miscellaneous kitchen equipment for VA Medical Centers.  The VA did not conduct any market research to determine whether the solicitation should be set-aside for SDVOSBs (or VOSBs).  Instead, the VA issued the solicitation on an unrestricted basis to Federal Supply Schedule holders.

Aldevra filed a pre-award GAO protest, alleging that the solicitation violated the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, which creates the “Veterans First” pecking order for VA procurements.

In a brief decision, the GAO sustained the protest.  It stated that the issues were no different than previously presented in Aldevra, B-406205 (Mar. 14, 2012) and Aldevra, B-405271 (Oct. 11, 2011).  The GAO wrote, “Here, as in the previous Aldevra protests, the VA has not conducted market research to determine if there are two or more eligible SDVOSB (or VOSB) concerns capable of performing the agency’s requirements. Consistent with our recent decisions, we conclude that the 2006 VA Act requires that the agency make a determination whether these acquisitions should be set aside for SDVOSB (or VOSB) concerns prior to conducting the procurements using FSS procedures.”

Aldevra won again, but by now, it is clear that the VA will not follow the GAO’s recommendations, nor will it be shamed into giving up its “GSA Schedule First” policy.  Let’s hope that Congress or the courts step in and enforce Veterans First once and for all, before too many more Aldevra sequels come out.

2 thoughts on “GAO Sustains An Aldevra Protest (Again)

  1. VA has decided to ignore the repeated sustainment of protests by Aldevdra, claiming that they are not violating the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, which creates a “Veterans First” precedence for VA procurements.

    The issue for me, among many, is that VA did not do any market research to determine of veteran owned companies could do the work. As VA repeatedly acknowledges this fact, what market research, if any, is being done to ensure best value to the taxpayer?

    Why would you not verify on GSA Advantage if you are using GSA Schedules? You can narrow the field by socioeconomic class.

    One of the reasons I heard from senior VA officials is that they greatly exceed goals for veteran owned businesses, so get off their backs. Really? The market research is not that time consuming.

    Why would the VA not automatically want to do business with veteran owned companies? If the market research determines that no veteran owned business can do the work at a fair and reasonable price, then fine.

    Very frustrating…

    • Jaime,

      Thank you for your comments. You raise a number of good points, including that use of the GSA Schedule and award to SDVOSBs are not mutually exclusive. In a prior GAO decision, the GAO suggested that the VA could meet its legal obligations by conducting market research solely among SDVOSB Schedule holders, rather than all SDVOSBs. But the VA seems to have ignored that potential compromise, and has pushed forward with its policy of making unrestricted Schedule awards without bothering to see whether SDVOSBs could fill the same need at a fair price.

      Thanks again for reading.

      Steven

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