The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case Monday that could have upended the Rule of Two’s priority over the AbilityOne program for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ procurements.Continue reading
As recently as May, the Department of Veterans Affairs told a nonprofit helping to employ blind workers that it intended to renew its contract. The organization was shocked, therefore, when on July 30, the VA issued a notice of award to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. To make matters worse, the nonprofit’s GAO protest of the award was promptly dismissed for being untimely.
What the heck happened?Continue reading
The FAR mandates that agencies use the AbilityOne program to award contracts for items on the AbilityOne procurement list to qualified nonprofits. The purpose of the program is to increase employment and training opportunities for persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.
With rare exceptions, when an item is on the AbilityOne procurement list, an agency has no choice–it must purchase through AbilityOne, even where the AbilityOne items are included in the procurement of larger services. The GAO recently sustained a protest where the GSA awarded a courthouse lease without requiring that the associated custodial services be procured from an AbilityOne nonprofit.
In May 2017, SDVOSBs and VOSBs lodged another big win in their battle to enforce the statutory preferences for veteran-owned companies: the Court of Federal Claims held that the VA cannot buy products or services using the AbilityOne list without first applying the “rule of two” and determining whether qualified SDVOSBs or VOSBs are likely to bid.
But the AbilityOne vendor in question isn’t going down without a fight. It’s taking the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit–and the Court of Federal Claims just issued a ruling staying its May decision pending the results of the appeal.
The VA cannot buy products or services using the AbilityOne List without first applying the “rule of two” and determining whether qualified SDVOSBs and VOSBs are available to bid.
Today’s decision of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in PDS Consultants, Inc. v. United States, No. 16-1063C (2017) resolves–in favor of veteran-owned businesses–an important question that has been lingering since Kingdomware was decided nearly one year ago. The Court’s decision in PDS Consultants makes clear that at VA, SDVOSBs and VOSBs trump AbilityOne.
Hopefully those of you on the East Coast are hunkered down and ready for the historic snow storm headed your way. And since many of our readers may be having a lot of unplanned time at home this weekend, we have the perfect idea to prevent boredom: catching up on the latest and greatest in government contracts news.
In this week’s edition of SmallGovCon Week In Review, a major investigation of the AbilityOne program is underway, Guy Timberlake offers some common sense advice on multiple-award contracts, and much more.
With July almost over, we are looking forward to the remainder of the summer. But even in the hottest weather, government contracting news never stops. In this week’s SmallGovCon Week In Review, a new study pushes back at “bid protest hysteria,” Guy Timberlake continues his important discussion of federal agency classifications, CNN investigates alleged corruption in the AbilityOne program, and more.