A New York government contractor has agreed to pay $5.65 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by failing to comply with the Price Reduction Clause in its GSA Schedule contract.
The hefty settlement is a strong reminder that the GSA takes the Price Reduction Clause very seriously, and that failing to abide by the Price Reduction Clause can lead to significant repercussions.
A procuring agency is not required to evaluate whether potential small business offerors possess the capabilities to meet all of the requirements of a solicitation before issuing the solicitation as a small business set-aside, according to a recent GAO bid protest decision.
In Swank Healthcare, B-407367 (Dec. 12, 2012), the GAO denied a large business’s bid protest, holding that the procuring agency had properly issued a small business set-aside without first considering whether the small businesses it had identified as likely offerors possessed the capabilities to meet all of the requirements of the solicitation.
Well, that was fast.
A little more than two weeks after the U.S. Court of Federal Claims held that the VA need not consider service-disabled veteran-owned small business set-asides before procuring goods and services using the Federal Supply Schedule, the GAO has ended its long-running dispute with the VA over the same issue.
The GAO’s decision, in a case also involving Kingdomware Technologies, puts a sudden end to a series of GAO cases (known by many as the Aldevra cases) holding that the VA has been acting contrary to the law by failing to consider SDVOSB set-asides before using the Schedule.
As I briefly reported last night, in a crushing blow to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has overturned the GAO’s Aldevra decisions.
Judge Nancy Firestone, ruling in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. The United States, No. 12-173C (Nov. 27, 2012), held that the VA reasonably interpreted the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 as not requiring consideration of a SDVOSB set-aside before the VA procures goods and services under the Federal Supply Schedule. For SDVOSBs, the Kingdomware Technologies ruling means that the VA’s much-ballyhooed “Veterans First” acquisition policy means little more than “Veterans First (If We Feel Like It).”
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.
Kids love repetition. Even though my daughter isn’t 10 months old yet, some of her favorite games involve doing the same thing over and over. For instance, she throws a toy. I pick it up and give it back to her. She throws it again. And so on. She finds this hilarious, whereas I find the whole thing funny just because she’s so adorable (I admit to a bit of bias).
Repetition is also the name of the game in the GAO’s standoff with the VA over the VA’s refusal to set-aside procurements for SDVOSBs before procuring goods and services under the Federal Supply Schedule. The GAO recently sustained yet another bid protest, holding that the VA had improperly awarded a contract to a non-SDVOSB, even though 20 or more SDVOSBs were capable of doing the work. But before long, the showdown between the GAO and the VA may end, because one SDVOSB seems to have taken the matter to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which–unlike the GAO–has the power to compel the VA to put “Veterans First.”
The VA has gotten beaten up pretty badly at the GAO lately. The governmental watchdog agency continues to sustain protests (the most notable being filed by a company named Aldevra) on the basis that the VA’s practice of obtaining goods and services on the Federal Supply Schedule without first determining whether the procurements can be set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses or veteran-owned small businesses is illegal.
However, in a recent bid protest decision regarding the same issue, the GAO ruled in the VA’s favor—and its ruling could bring an end to the Aldevra saga (an end many SDVOSBs and VOSBs are likely to find very unsatisfactory), if the VA accepts the GAO’s lifeline.