If you google “GAO discussions,” you will likely see a multitude of results talking about “meaningful discussions.” Source selection authorities (SSA) are given a large amount of discretion beyond that. Despite the high level of discretion SSAs have, there are still certain boundaries that they must work within. These boundaries are premised on the fairness principle that is woven throughout the FAR and other procurement rules. In particular, the process of discussions must fit within these boundaries. Discussions allow all offerors that are still being considered for award an equal opportunity to address deficiencies, weaknesses, and adverse past performance information. But what if the contracting agency engages in discussions with only one offeror, who also happens to be the awardee?Continue reading
GAO recently sustained a protest to the evaluation of an awardee’s management approach based on a material misrepresentation in its proposed key personnel experience (that the protester found on Linkedin, no less). And GAO found the misrepresentation was material because the agency relied upon it, and it significantly impacted the agency’s evaluation. Let’s take a closer look.Continue reading
For small businesses, the SBA’s Certificate of Competency process can offer a powerful “second bite at the apple,” essentially allowing a small business to appeal to the SBA if a procuring agency finds the small business non-responsible.
But the SBA CoC process is limited to findings of non-responsibility under FAR Part 9. As GAO recently held, there is no right to appeal to SBA if the proposal was rejected for failing to adequately explain the small business’s technical approach.Continue reading
Facilities security clearances are a common requirement for Department of Defense procurements. While important for national security reasons, these solicitation requirements can also create confusion with respect to evaluation.
A recent GAO decision demonstrates how confusion can arise when a contractor holds multiple CAGE codes, only one of which corresponds to a cleared facility.Continue reading
An agency can’t award an offeror a contract if its proposal doesn’t conform with a material solicitation requirement. So if, for example, the solicitation requires certain types of documentation showing an offeror’s right to use property, but the awardee offers something different, GAO will likely sustain a protest.
Put differently, GAO won’t let an agency relax key solicitation requirements even though the agency might, during evaluation, accept the non-complying proposal.