Timing Issues: Challenges to Brand Name Salient Characteristics Due Before Proposal Submission, Says GAO

Time. It’s a great Pink Floyd song. It’s also something that frequently trips up contractors filing protests before GAO. As one contractor recently discovered, a challenge to the salient characteristics of a brand name product is equivalent to challenging the terms of a solicitation, which carries a different protest deadline than evaluation challenges. Unfortunately for the protester, its argument did not fair nearly as well as one of David Gilmour’s solos.

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GAO Denies Challenge to Solicitation Terms: Use of “Tactical” Was Imprecise, but Allowable

In the world of federal contracting, precision matters. In fact, precision is often essential when developing a winning proposal. When it comes to subjective evaluation considerations, however, it can be challenging to articulate relevant evaluation criteria with a high level of precision. Indeed, as one prospective offeror recently discovered, some evaluation terms are good enough for government work, despite being imprecise.

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GAO Rules RFQ Requirement Unreasonably Restricted Competition

In recent GAO decision, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., B-418449 (Comp. Gen. May 18, 2020), GAO reminded the Marine Corps to make sure its RFQ requirements were reasonable—and in line with the underlying contract.

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5 Things You Should Know: Pre-Award Bid Protests

Small businesses often search for ways to increase their competitiveness for federal government contracts. A sometimes overlooked method is to try to better define the procurement’s requirements in a manner that improves a firm’s chances of being awarded the contract, through a pre-award bid protest.

Here are five things you should know about pre-award protests:

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GAO: DOD Should Clarify Criteria for Using LPTA

Over the last few years, SmallGovCon has covered the Congressionally-mandated march away from use of lowest-price technically-acceptable procurements at the Department of Defense. But although Congress has restricted when DOD might use LPTA criteria, the Department has not followed this mandate.

A recent GAO report highlights DOD’s struggle. As of September 2018, DOD has not yet revised its regulations to reflect certain statutory restrictions against LPTA awards and, as a result, DOD contracting officers believe they are not yet required to follow these new requirements.

Candidly, I’m not so sure. But in any event, GAO’s report issued a couple of recommendations to help DOD fully implement the restrictions against LPTA procurements.

Let’s take a look.

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Salient Characteristics in Government Solicitations: Close Isn’t Good Enough

It’s a Sunday afternoon and instead of watching football (CHIEFS!), you’re shopping for a new refrigerator. You explain to the salesman your must-haves: a black refrigerator with a bottom-drawer freezer and an in-door water dispenser. But rather than showing you refrigerators that meet your criteria, he insists on showing you stainless steel models with the freezer on the side.

If the refrigerator doesn’t meet your needs (or your wants), odds are you won’t buy it. The federal government is no different: if it identifies salient characteristics in a solicitation, proposals that deviate from them likely aren’t going to win the award.

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Presumptive Awardee Ineligible to Challenge Solicitation Terms, Says GAO

If you’re a winner under a solicitation, you can’t challenge the ground rules under which you won–at least under the facts of a recent GAO bid protest decision.

In that decision, GAO concluded that the protestor of a solicitation’s terms lacked standing when the protester was subsequently identified as an awardee under the solicitation.

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