The FAR requires offerors, in most situations, to disclose any actual or potential organizational conflicts of interest (OCI) that exist when submitting an offer or proposal in response to a solicitation. While it is rare that an offeror will be excluded from competition solely due to the existence or potential of an OCI, offerors who do not disclose as required will most likely be excluded, making this a situation where you generally want to disclose the existence of an OCI up front, not explain after the agency’s discovery through other means. Offerors may choose to avoid, mitigate, or neutralize an OCI by putting up a organizational barrier between the individual creating the OCI and the perceived or actual conflict. However, in some situations, avoiding, mitigating, or neutralizing the OCI may not be in the agency’s best interest. In that case, and as happened in Accenture Federal Services, LLC, agencies are given the option to waive the requirements of FAR subpart 9.5, thereby making award regardless of the existence or potential of an OCI.Continue reading
Late 2022, the president signed a law that would increase what contractors have to reveal about potential organizational conflicts of interest. The law is called the Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act. Below, we highlight some of the main things contractors should out look for based on this new law.Continue reading
In our line of work, we regularly litigate protests, appeals, claims, etc., against the Government. But often, procuring and contracting issues can be resolved without the need for litigation–via a little-known method we like to call “talking things out with your CO.” There are also opportunities to communicate with your contracting officers for networking and marketing purposes that many contractors (often unnecessarily) shy away from. This article is the first of three articles that will provide you with some tips for when and how to communicate with your contracting officer at different steps of the procurement process. This article will focus on pre-solicitation and solicitation communications; the next will focus on proposal submission communications; and the third will focus on contract performance communications.Continue reading
We want to make something clear: simply having a former government official as an employee does not mean your company can’t bid on federal contracts or needs to let that person go. The government, while it puts certain restrictions in place, doesn’t forbid government contractors from hiring former government employees, and it can be very beneficial to have employees with such experience and still perfectly ethical. What it does forbid is when the company is or even just appears to be getting some sort of unfair advantage in acquiring contracts as a result of having former government workers as employees. For example, what if the contractor hires someone who was with the procuring agency and had access to information on competitors for an upcoming solicitation? This is the sort of thing that will result in awards being lost, as one company learned.Continue reading
As federal contractors begin to become engaged in multiple programs for a particular agency, the potential for the firm to encounter a situation where it finds itself involved in an organizational conflict of interest (OCI) may increase. This is particularly true with respect to “impaired objectivity” OCI, which is when a firm’s ability to render impartial advice to the government is or might be undermined by the firm’s competing interests. These OCIs often arise in service contracts where the contractor is placed in a position of evaluating its own performance on other contracts.
In a recent case, GAO found that an agency’s award of a contract created an impermissible impaired objectivity OCI for a contractor from two different perspectives for services that the contractor provided in the capacity as both a prime and subcontractor for an agency. The case is Steel Point Solutions, LLC B-419709,B-419709.2 (July 07, 2021).Continue reading
While most of our get-togethers these days involve mask wearing, social distancing, and even virtual happy hours, spending time with friends is a great way to keep spirits light. Unfortunately for one group of friends, their weekly hangouts led GAO to conclude in its recent decision, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., B-418835 (Sept. 25, 2020), that NASA had to cancel a more than $650 million deal and start the procurement process all over.Continue reading
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.Continue reading