GAO: Don’t Slip Up on SAM Registration, Even for One Day

If federal contracting had a proverbial town square, it would be SAM.gov. So much federal contracting activity flows through or starts there. A large portion of SAM is contractor information. Contractors are required to be on SAM and are expected to keep their profiles on SAM updated. A “hot off the presses” GAO ruling has confirmed that the timing of SAM registration can make or break a contractor’s winning bid.

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GAO: Small Business Teaming Agreement Must Follow Solicitation Guidelines

As we often tell people, language in a teaming agreement is important for a federal contract. But so is complying with the terms of a solicitation. A recent GAO decision hinged on a very specific portion of the language in a teaming agreement that was required as part of a solicitation. Because the contractor did not include the required language in a teaming agreement, it lost out on an award.

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GAO Says: SBA’s Rules for Mentor-Protégé Joint Venture Experience Evaluations May Limit Solicitation Terms

Contractors will often enter into mentor protégé relationships and joint ventures to leverage the experience and skills of multiple parties for various reasons. SBA regulations dictate how the capabilities, past performance, and experience of a mentor-protégé joint venture will be evaluated. But at the end of the day, what matters is, whether agencies will follow those regulations in their small business set-aside solicitations and evaluations thereunder. A recent GAO case addressed this issue, providing further guidance on the interplay of solicitation terms for experience evaluations and SBA’s rules for evaluating mentor-protégé joint ventures’ experience.

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A Bridge (Not) Too Far: Prohibition on Dividing up Contracts to get Under 8(a) Sole Source Dollar Limit Doesn’t Apply to Bridge Contracts

Under 13 C.F.R. § 124.506, if an 8(a) contract price would exceed a certain threshold ($7 million for manufacturing contracts, $4.5 million for others), in most cases, the agency must compete the set-aside.  13 C.F.R. § 124.506(a)(5) is a provision meant to close up what otherwise would be a loophole in the rules. It states that “[a] proposed 8(a) requirement with an estimated value exceeding the applicable competitive threshold amount may not be divided into several separate procurement actions for lesser amounts in order to use 8(a) sole source procedures to award to a single contractor.” But this rule does not apply in all circumstances. In particular, it does not apply to bridge contracts.

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Agency Could Not Accept Price Above Awardee’s FSS Price, GAO Says

If you feel like prices for just about everything are going up, you’re not alone. I recently got my annual property tax bill, and the first thing I did (after recovering from a brief fainting spell) was to start Googling to find out how much I could get for one of my kidneys on the black market.

I get the feeling that my county tax assessor would consider anything less than a double digit increase to be an embarrassing professional failure. In federal government contracting, however, a contractor may not have the same leeway to raise its prices. In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that when an agency sought to procure services using the Federal Supply Schedule, the agency could not agree to pay a price higher than the price set forth in the offeror’s underlying FSS contract.

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GAO: Brand Name or Equal RFQ Must Explicitly State All Salient Characteristics

Solicitations for brand name or equal products are commonly used by contracting officers to ensure that the products procured via the contract meet minimum requirements. However, as one agency found, the salient characteristics required to meet the minimum requirements must be explicitly stated in the solicitation. And, evaluating the product on any characteristics that are not included in the solicitation, even if incorporated by reference to the name brand item, can lead to an improper exclusion of offerors from competition.

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Two Bites of the Same Apple: Protester Wins Sustain on Second Name Brand or Equal Protest with an Unexpected Result

When submitting an offer, it is important to make sure that all the requirements of the solicitation are met. This is essentially Federal Government Contracting 101 and applies to any type of solicitation. In RELX, Inc., B-421597.2, 2023 CPD ¶ 262 (Comp. Gen. Nov. 17, 2023), GAO looked at this issue in the context of a lowest-price, technically acceptable (LPTA) solicitation for a brand name or better product, with an unexpected ending that the protester surely did not see coming.

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