Ring Ring! GAO Sustains Protest of Awardee’s Conflict of Interest

Agencies have broad discretion when it comes to evaluating potential organizational conflicts of interest–but that discretion isn’t unlimited. In a recent decision involving a fight between two telecommunications giants, the GAO sustained the protest, holding that the the agency unreasonably concluded that there was no possibility of an “impaired objectivity” OCI arising from the award.

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GAO: Agency Cannot Ignore Apparent Conflict

When a procuring agency knows of an apparent organizational conflict of interest, but makes no effort to resolve the issue, the resulting award is improper.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, GAO held that it is impermissible for an agency to simply ignore a known conflict (or apparent conflict).  Interestingly, GAO never determined whether the conflict helped or hurt the business’s efforts at winning the award. It said essentially that it did not matter. Because a conflict existed, the agency knew about it, and did nothing, the award was flawed.

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No Conflict: GAO Holds Contractor’s Former Employee May Evaluate Proposals

Is it a conflict of interest for a contractor’s former employee to evaluate his old firm’s competitive proposal?  Not necessarily, according to the GAO.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, the agency’s technical evaluation board included a member who had previously worked for the winning offeror.  As one might expect, this did not sit particularly well with one of the awardee’s competitors, which filed a GAO bid protest.  The GAO’s ruling: there was no conflict of interest.

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