The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal filed by Kingdomware Technologies, Inc.
News outlets are reporting that the Supreme Court will take on the question of whether the VA’s “Veterans First” rules permit the VA to circumvent SDVOSBs by using the Federal Supply Schedule. The case is an appeal from a 2014 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in which a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the VA.
The Supreme Court grants only a small fraction of the petitions for certiorari filed with it, so just getting in the courthouse door is a victory of sorts for Kingdomware.
Much more on the pending Supreme Court case as I get the details.
SDVOSBs—and basic fairness and common sense—were big winners in a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
In its decision, the Court held that the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation violated the law when it disqualified a SDVOSB, without giving the SDVOSB the opportunity to contest the reasons for the disqualification. In an opinion reminiscent of last year’s landmark Miles Construction case, the Court then held that the CVE’s substantive reasons for the disqualification were arbitrary and unreasonable.
The VA failed to verify the accuracy of a contractor’s representation that it was a veteran-owned small business, according to a new report issued by the VA’s Office of Inspector General.
According to the VA OIG, the VA failed to verify the claim of Westar Development Company, LLC to be a VOSB–and “[t]he evidence does not support a finding that Westar is or ever has been a Veteran-Owned Small Business.” The VA’s failure to verify Westar’s VOSB status is just one of many serious flaws identified by the VA OIG in its audit of the award of a major VA lease to Westar.
A SDVOSB was improperly downgraded for not identifying its subcontractors in its proposal, according to a recent GAO bid protest decision.
In Coburn Contractors, LLC, B-408279.2 (Sept. 30, 2013), the GAO held that the VA improperly applied an unstated evaluation criterion by requiring that the protester identify its subcontractors, because according to the solicitation, a subcontractor list was only required at the task order level.
The VA SDVOSB protest process has been criticized by some (including a certain Kansas-based government contracts attorney) for failing to offer a right of appeal. Under the VA’s rules, if a protested company was found to be ineligible as a SDVOSB, its only option was to sue the VA in federal court–an expensive and time-consuming proposition.
Today, the VA published an interim final rule, under which a protested SDVOSB has the right to an appeal within the VA. The new system isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
GAO bid protests regarding a competitor’s compliance with the applicable limitation on subcontracting can be difficult to win.
As the GAO held in a recent bid protest decision, unless the competitor’s proposal “on its face” should have led the procuring agency to recognize that the limitation on subcontracting would be violated, the agency is free to assume that the offeror intends to comply. Of course, as was the case in the recent decision, it doesn’t hurt the protested company to specifically state that it will comply with the limitation on subcontracting.
The VA CVE has instructed verified SDVOSBs to remove so-called “large NAICS codes” from their VetBiz Vendor Information Pages profiles within 30 days–or else.
According to a recent email from the VA CVE (which was kindly shared with me), SDVOSBs must remove any NAICS codes for which they do not qualify as a small business. Failing to remove these “large NAICS codes” may result in potentially harsh penalties, including debarment.