GAO recently dismissed several bid protests to an $82 billion procurement because of the actions of a company that had already lost its protest.
In AECOM Management Services, four different companies protested the U.S. Army’s logistics civil augmentation program procurement for various “Setting the Theater” services for the Army’s Northern Command, Southern Command, African Command, European Command, Central Command, Pacific Command, and Afghanistan.
Sole-source awards can make many contractors feel left out of the loop of the procurement process. GAO in the past has upheld that sole-source contracts are allowable so long as the agency has a reasonable justification for the sole-source contract. Recently GAO re-examined what constitutes a reasonable “justification and award” for a sole-source contract.
Many federal construction contractors know that contract changes can be frustrating business. Changes can be unilateral or bilateral. They can stress a contractor’s finances. They can delay the overall project. And they can result in animosity between the agency and a contractor.
Fortunately, GAO has shined some light on the problems in the contract change process. Indeed, in a recent report, GAO concluded that agencies, particularly the Army Corps of Engineers and GSA, need to develop better systems to collect data about changes in construction contracts.
Your company has submitted a proposal for a Lowest-Priced, Technically Acceptable acquisition. To your surprise, you find out another company has submitted a technically acceptable offer with the same price. Equally surprising, the solicitation does not contain any provisions instructing the agency on how to pick from otherwise equal bids. So what is the contracting officer to do – issue an order for a standoff, a la the O.K. Corral? (For the record, we do not advise this as a viable method of conflict resolution.)
Fortunately, GAO encourages a less drastic solution–use of the contracting officer’s reasonable discretion.
A protester recently lost an effort to get an agency to consider a late proposal arguing that it was emailed to the agency on the due date.
Even though the quote would have been less expensive than the awardee’s and this was a lowest-price technically-acceptable procurement, GAO denied the protest finding that the email was a few hours late and did not include the attached quotation.
In evaluating proposals, an agency will sometimes use “adjectival ratings” (e.g., Excellent, Good, Acceptable) to describe its assessment of a proposal or portions of a proposal. But, importantly, an agency cannot evade its responsibility to reasonably evaluate proposals–based on the articulated evaluation criteria–by deferring solely to the assigned adjectival ratings.
In other words, if the agency doesn’t perform a true qualitative assessment, but instead relies on mere labels to make its ultimate award decision, GAO will likely slap the agency’s hand.