The mantra of March Madness is “survive and advance,” but the Kansas Jayhawks did more than that in their 32-point win over Purdue last night. Here in Lawrence, we’re waiting for tomorrow night’s Elite Eight showdown with Oregon. And since waiting is always better with some good reading material, it’s time for the SmallGovCon Week In Review.
In this week’s edition, a look at how President Trump’s proposed military budget will impact customers, a contractor agrees to a whopping $45 million payout to settle allegations of overcharging the government, the Army contends that protests are “nearly automatic,” and much more.
Imagine that you’re a manufacturer of appliances, and respond to a solicitation seeking one of your appliances (on a brand name basis). You, of course, propose to provide your appliance. But you lose out on an award to an offeror that submits an offer for a different appliance that admittedly does not comply with the solicitation’s minimum requirements.
In this situation, you’d probably be fairly upset. And as a recent GAO decision acknowledged, you’d likely have a successful basis of protest—that is, if you could establish that you were prejudiced by the government’s award decision, and if you understood what exactly the GAO means by “prejudice.”
We are quickly approaching our 1000th blog post on the SmallGovCon blog. To celebrate we want to reward one lucky reader with a free one hour custom webinar for up to 50 people presented by Steven Koprince on the government contracting topic of your choice! You can enter by using the hashtag #SGC1000 on Twitter or Facebook just by telling us why you read the blog or what you love most about. You can also simply fill out this form to be entered. Good Luck!
As a general rule, an agency is only required to evaluate a fixed-price offer for reasonableness (that is, whether the price is too high). Agencies are not required to evaluate fixed-price offers for realism (that is, whether the price is too low) and, in fact, cannot do so unless the solicitation advises offerors that a realism evaluation will be conducted.
GAO recently reaffirmed this principle when it denied a protest challenging an agency’s refusal to consider the realism of offerors’ fixed prices as part of a corrective action, even though the agency suspected that at least one offeror’s price was unrealistically low.
The GAO sustained 22.56% of protests decided on the merits in Fiscal Year 2016–nearly double the 12% sustain rate reported in FY 2015.
According to the GAO’s FY 2016 Bid Protest Annual Report, the GAO sustained 139 of the 616 protests decided on the merits (that is, cases where GAO actually reached a “sustain” or “deny” decision). The overall effectiveness rate for protesters–a combination of “sustain” decisions, plus the many cases in which agencies took corrective action in response to protests–was 46%, a slight increase over the prior fiscal year.
We’ve been covering many of the important changes to federal contracting promised as a result of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. But among the most consequential might be a provision that requires DoD to compile a report that analyzes the impacts of the current bid protest system on DoD acquistions. This report could ultimately form the basis for potential significant changes to the protest system in future years.
A solicitation’s evaluation criteria are tremendously important. Not only must offerors understand and comply with those criteria in order to have a chance at being awarded the contract, but the agency must abide by them too. Where an agency does not, it risks that a protest challenging the application of an unstated evaluation criteria will be sustained.
So it was in Phoenix Air Group, Inc., B-412796.2 et al. (Sept. 26, 2016), a recent GAO decision sustaining a protest where the protester’s proposal was unreasonably evaluated under evaluation criteria not specified in the solicitation.
After September 30, 2016, unsuccessful offerors will lose the ability to challenge some task order awards issued by civilian agencies.
With the House of Representatives and Senate at odds over the extent to which task orders should be subject to bid protests in the first place, it’s unclear whether that protest right will be restored.