Jackson Kelly PLLC

Government Contracts Monitor

Evaluation and Award

Exemption 4: Protection of Confidential Information - The Ground May be Shifting

The Supreme Court recently granted a petition for writ of certiorari over (that is, agreed to review) an Eight Circuit decision involving Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  What is Exemption 4?  It is the exemption that protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” Why is this…

Will DoD Change How It Procures "Readily Available" Commercial Items?

The Section 809 Panel has recommended some drastic changes that would impact government contractors doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD).  What is the Section 809 Panel? It is a panel created in Section 809 of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with goals outlined in the NDAA such as: (i) reviewing DoD’s acquisition regulations with a view toward improving the…

Agency Waiver of Solicitation Requirement - Fatal or Non-Prejudicial?

A recent protest demonstrates why it is not sufficient for a disappointed offeror to challenge an agency’s award as improper solely because the agency relaxed or waived a material solicitation requirement in evaluating the awardee’s proposal and thus the awardee’s proposal was deficient.  Such a challenge, in order to succeed, must include another key element: demonstrated prejudice to the …

Changing Key Personnel After Proposal Submission? Not So Fast....

As the GAO recently determined, and the Court of Federal Claims affirmed, an offeror who finds itself in a position of having to modify key personnel specified in its proposal, after the deadline for proposal submission, may end up with an unacceptable proposal.  If an agency notified offerors that it might award without discussions, an offeror will not be able to "re-open" the proposal process to…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye, to Low Price Technically Acceptable

The Department of Defense (“DoD”) recently proposed a new rule (click here) that would restrict the use of the lowest price technically acceptable (“LPTA”) source selection method.  The rule will apply to FAR Part 15 negotiated procurements, Federal Supply Schedule orders, commercial item acquisitions, simplified acquisitions, and orders against multiple award indefinite delivery contracts. The…

New Year's Resolutions, 2019 - Reassess Your Size Status, Update Your SAM and DSBS Listings, Check Your Past Performance Ratings, and Update Your Employment Policies, Handbooks and Postings

Happy New Year!  The start of a new year is the time for New Year’s Resolutions.  Here are several we strongly urge you to follow-through on early in 2019.

 

     1.  Reassess Your (and Any Subcontractors’) Small Business Size Status:  Most companies operate on a calendar year for tax reporting purposes.  For such companies the start of a new tax year, and the end of the prior year, means a change and…

Release of Proprietary Information - Tainted Procurement?

What happens when a competitor receives proprietary information during a procurement? Will an offeror whose information has been improperly disclosed succeed in a protest? The answer is . . . it depends.  Most recently, in DynCorp International, LLC,  the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that an agency had a reasonable basis for not disqualifying a competitor that had received…

The "Close at Hand" Rule Applies to Past Performance, but Not Technical Matters

Sometimes, offerors leave important information out of their proposals in the mistaken belief that agency evaluators already know—and will take into account--the facts in question. In other cases, disappointed bidders who think their ratings are too low rely on similar thinking and argue point to the agency’s supposed knowledge and argue that it improperly failed to take that information into…

Sometimes Less Than Complete Information Is Enough, but Don't Count on It

As a general rule (and best practice), offerors should always strive to ensure their proposals provide complete and accurate information that strictly complies with the solicitation requirements--and gives the procuring agency what it needs to make a favorable award decision. To do otherwise is to flirt with an agency determination that the proposal is nonresponsive or otherwise insufficient. In…

Pay Attention to What the Solicitation Says

The recent decision in Distributed Solutions, Inc., B-416394 (August 13, 2018) serves as another reminder of the importance of strict adherence with all solicitation requirements. Just as contract interpretation strives to ensure that every provision in the agreement is given meaning, an offeror’s review of--and response to--a solicitation cannot ignore any of its terms.

In Distributed Solutions,…

Dun & Bradstreet Reports Have Limited Utility When Challenging Responsibility Determinations at the GAO

Disappointed bidders seeking to challenge a contracting officer’s affirmative responsibility determination will attempt to rely on any information that appears even arguably relevant. One common source of information to which such offerors turn is the Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) report on the awardee, under the theory that its contents can help demonstrate a lack of financial wherewithal. As the…

In the Absence of a Definition, the Agency's Reasonable Interpretation of Terms Controls

It’s essentially impossible to submit a winning proposal if you don’t understand what the procuring agency wants to buy. But understanding what a solicitation is saying is sometimes more difficult than it seems. Offerors pursuing a contract award are sometimes disappointed to learn that their understanding of a word or phrase does not match the meaning the procuring agency intended it to convey.…

 

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