GAO Sustains Protest Where Agency Fails to Properly Justify “Brand Name Only” Requirement

When an agency restricts a solicitation to a single brand-name, the agency must appropriately justify its decision, even where the solicitation is competed among holders of a governmentwide acquisition contract.

In a recent case, the GAO sustained a protest, holding that an agency violated the FAR by failing to properly justify its brand-name restriction.

Continue reading

Loose Lips Sink Ships: Award Revoked for Relying on Inside Information from Former Navy Officials

We want to make something clear: simply having a former government official as an employee does not mean your company can’t bid on federal contracts or needs to let that person go. The government, while it puts certain restrictions in place, doesn’t forbid government contractors from hiring former government employees, and it can be very beneficial to have employees with such experience and still perfectly ethical. What it does forbid is when the company is or even just appears to be getting some sort of unfair advantage in acquiring contracts as a result of having former government workers as employees. For example, what if the contractor hires someone who was with the procuring agency and had access to information on competitors for an upcoming solicitation? This is the sort of thing that will result in awards being lost, as one company learned.

Continue reading

GAO Confirms that Novations Work: Agency Properly Recognized Buyer of Contract as Awardee

The Anti-Assignment Act (41 U.S.C. § 6305) prohibits the transfer of a government contract or interest in a government contract to a third party. However, government agencies recognized that contractors are on occasion bought, sold, merged, or simply encounter circumstances upon which it becomes desirable or necessary for them to assign a government contract to a third party.  

To address this issue, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provides for a novation process to give contractors a method to transfer government contracts and not run afoul of the prohibitions in the Anti-Assignment Act. The ultimate goal of the novation process is to successfully transfer the contract and have the government recognize a new contractor as the successor-in-interest to the transferred contract.

Continue reading

Agency Properly Rejected Bidder for Listing COVID-19 as a “Force Majeure” Event

For government contractors, trying to predict how COVID-19 might affect a government project can be extraordinarily challenging task. One bidder recently attempted to provide some clarity by stating, in its bid, that COVID-19 was a “force majeure event” and that the bidder would be entitled to extra time if COVID-19 affected the project.

Unfortunately for the bidder, its effort failed: the agency rejected the bid for improperly exceeding the scope of a relevant FAR clause. The GAO then confirmed that the agency had acted properly.

Continue reading

GAO Finds CIO-SP4 Unduly Restrictive; Recommends Amendment

For practically the entire summer of 2021, we observed (and commented on) NIH’s numerous amendments to its long-awaited CIO-SP4 solicitation after it was finally issued in May 2021. By the time the deadline for proposals finally came, it had been amended eleven (!) times. Even with all those amendments, however, it appears that at least one offeror still had serious concerns about the final version. As it turns out, at least some of their concerns were warranted, per GAO, and has recommended the agency to amend the solicitation or revise its evaluation criteria.

Continue reading

Agencies May Rely on Offerors’ Buy American Act Certifications Unless “Reason to Believe” Non-Compliance

When an offeror submits a certification that its products qualify as domestic for purposes of the Buy American Act, an agency ordinarily may rely on that certification without further investigation, unless the agency has reason to believe that the products will not be compliant.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that an agency acted properly by relying on the offeror’s certification because the protester’s “unsupported allegations” were insufficient to trigger a requirement for further investigation.

Continue reading

Key Personnel Unavailability Leads to Sustained GAO Protest

Key personnel are an important term in many proposals. Establishing the resume, experience, and availability of personnel that will perform major functions of a contract is a key (dad joke) aspect of a winning proposal. As one offeror found out, when key personnel become unavailable, the technical acceptability of the entire offer can be in jeopardy.

Continue reading