Generally, agencies are required to maximize competition for procurements. But there are exceptions to this rule, such as for simplified acquisitions. Another exception is for sole source bridge contracts awarded between the end of an incumbent contract and the start of a new contract.
A recent GAO case explains the rationale for why a sole-source award is usually acceptable in that situation.
Last year, during consideration of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate proposed to “reform” the GAO bid protest process by forcing some unsuccessful protesters to pay the government’s costs, and (more controversially) by denying incumbent protesters profits on bridge contracts and extensions.
Congress ultimately chose not to implement these measures. Instead, Congress called for an independent report on the effect of bid protests at DoD–a wise move, considering that major reforms to the protest process shouldn’t be undertaken without first seeing whether hard data shows that protests are harming the procurement process.
But now, six months before that report is due, the Senate has re-introduced its flawed bid protest proposals as part of the 2018 NDAA.
Contractors would be wise to keep a close watch on FedBizOpps.gov, otherwise they run the risk missing the chance to protest a sole source award.
When an agency decides to make an award without competition, it often must publish a Justification and Approval (referred to simply as a “J&A”) on FedBizOpps explaining why a competition would not meet the agency’s needs. A potential competitor seeking to protest such an award at the GAO must file the protest before 10 days have passed from publication of the J&A, otherwise the protest may be untimely. A competitor that is not paying attention could be out of luck.
The Army improperly used FAR 52.217-8 (Option to Extend Services) to extend several contracts for periods much longer than the six-month maximum allowed by the clause.
This conclusion comes from a recent GAO study, in which the GAO determined that the Army improperly applied FAR 52.217-8 in three out of five contracts studied by the GAO. And although the GAO’s report was narrowly focused on a handful of Army contracts, it leads me to wonder whether FAR 52.217-8 is being improperly used on a much broader scale.
In a recent GAO review of three agencies’ use of bridge contracts, the agencies in question had “limited or no insight into their use of bridge contracts.”
According to a recent GAO report, a lack of effective guidance for the use of bridge contracts contributed to potential misuse–such as several so-called “bridge” contracts that were longer than three years in duration.