Task Order Labor Categories Don’t Match Schedule Contract; GAO Sustains Protest

The GAO sustained a protest of the award of a GSA Schedule task order because the labor categories awarded under the task order were outside the scope of the awardee’s underlying GSA Schedule contract.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the awardee’s GSA Schedule labor category–management analyst–did not align with the task order solicitation’s requirement for research analysts, general consultants, and legal administrative specialists.  As a result, the task order award was improper.

The GAO’s decision in US Investigations Services, Professional Services Division Inc., B-410454.2 (Jan. 15, 2015) involved a Justice Department procurement for personnel to perform services in connection with the FBI’s National Name Check Program.  The procurement was issued as a competitive task order RFQ for GSA Schedule contract holders.

The RFQ called for offerors to provide four principal labor categories: research analysts, program managers, general consultants, and legal administrative specialists.  The RFQ included descriptions of each required labor category.  For example, the RFQ stated that the legal administrative specialist should have “experience with career fields such as paralegal, records management, declassification review, and historical research.”

FCi Federal submitted a quotation.  For three of the four labor categories–research analysts, general consultants, and legal administrative specialists–FCi proposed a single labor category from its GSA Schedule contract: program management analyst.  FCi’s Schedule contract described the program management analyst labor category as follows:

Plans and provides analytical support for facilitation, methodology development and evaluation, business management techniques, and organizational development.  Supports business process improvements and modernization projects.  Key responsibilities include:  Developing modern business methods, identifying best practices, and creating and assessing performance measurements.

After reviewing competitive quotations, the agency made award to FCi.  A competitor, US Investigations Services, filed a GAO bid protest.  USIS contended, in part, that the award was improper because the labor categories included on FCi’s GSA Schedule contract did not encompass the solicited services.

The GAO agreed with USIS.  Comparing the definition of a program management analyst in FCi’s Schedule contract with the labor category definitions in the RFQ, the GAO wrote that “FCi’s program management analyst labor category does not include many of the requirements for the labor categories identified in the RFQ.”

For example, “FCi’s labor category description makes no mention of experience with paralegal, records management, declassification review or historical research career fields, and also makes no mention of in-depth knowledge of FBI policy, functions, and familiarity with other government agencies’ functions.”  After identifying other differences between the RFQ labor categories and FCi’s Schedule contract description, the GAO concluded, “[s]imply stated, none of the responsibilities or activities described in FCi’s labor category description–identified as ‘key’ responsibilities in FCi’s labor category description–is germane to the work required under the RFQ.”

The GAO wrote that the contemporaneous evaluation record “does not show that the agency gave any meaningful consideration to the question of whether or not FCi’s FSS contract included labor categories that encompassed the requirements of the task order.”  Even responding to the protest, “the agency has not meaningfully or critically analyzed the question, or explained how it reasonably could reconcile the apparent divergence between FCi’s labor category description quoted above and the requirements of the RFQ.”  The GAO sustained USIS’s protest.

The US Investigations Services bid protest decision is an important reminder that task orders issued under the GSA Schedule must align with the Schedule contract.  Where, as here, the agency awards a task order for services that are not reasonably encompassed in the underlying Schedule contract, the award is improper.

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