GAO recently sustained a bid protest to a General Services Administration (GSA) acquisition for warehousing and deployment services at the strategic national stockpile–a literal “stockpile” of the nation’s largest supply of critical pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies, and emergency supplies. GSA issued this solicitation and conducted this acquisition on behalf of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), an operating agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But according to GAO, in evaluating offerors under its solicitation, here, GSA failed to provide offerors with the meaningful discussions required by the FAR. So, GAO sustained the protest and recommended that GSA: reopen the procurement to conduct meaningful discussions with offerors, accept and evaluate revised proposals after doing so, and make a new award decision on that basis.Continue reading
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
Evaluation of offers is a crucial point in the procurement process. During this time period, an agency may, in certain procurements, reach out with discussion questions meant to bring clarity to the decision-making process. However, any such discussions must be meaningful.
As one offeror recently found out, meaningful discussions even apply in so-called simplified acquisitions.Continue reading
A procuring agency did not engage in impermissible discussions by allowing a small business to verify its intent to comply with the applicable limitation on subcontracting.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the information regarding the small business’s compliance with the subcontracting limits was a permissible “clarification,” and did not require the agency to open discussions with all offerors in the competitive range.
In discussions, a procuring agency is not required to explicitly inform an offeror that its proposal contains a significant weakness, so long as the agency sufficiently identifies the area of concern.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the agency had adequately informed the offeror of the agency’s concerns, even though the agency did not specifically identify those concerns as a “significant weakness.”