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Government Contracts Monitor

GAO Decisions

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…

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…

Diligence Pays in Timeliness of Protest

Sometimes diligence on the part of a disappointed offeror pays off.  An instance where diligence was rewarded was addressed recently by the General Accountability Office in the Miltope protest, decided January 8, 2019.

Miltope protested its exclusion from the competitive range under a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of the Army for multipurpose automatic test equipment,…

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 Challenge in Challenging A CICA Override - Know Your Facts

Under the Competition in Contracting Act’s (CICA’s) automatic stay, agencies, upon receiving notice that the award is being protested, must “direct the contractor to cease performance under the contract and to suspend any related activities that may result in additional obligations being incurred by the United States under that contract.” 31 U.S.C. § 3553(d)(3)(A)(ii)(2). Although CICA gives the…

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,…

Friendly Reminder: Protest Grounds Cannot Be Based Solely on Supposition and Speculation

There can be a huge difference being “knowing” something is true and being able to prove it. The same is true when it comes to articulating protest grounds before the Government Accountability Office (GAO). It’s not enough to simply tell a good story that “makes sense” to yourself. No matter how sound the reasoning, protest claims must be based on more than mere supposition and speculation.…

Don't Count on Enhanced Debriefing Rights to Extend Protest Filing Deadlines Indefinitely

Disappointed bidders usually want an explanation of why they lost. The bid protest regulations recognize as much and provide unsuccessful offerors an opportunity to receive a debriefing that explains the basis for the agency’s decision. The Department of Defense (DoD) recently decided to provide enhanced debriefing rights to its unhappy offerors, which is generally considered a good thing, at…

An Inaccurate SAM Registration Is Not Always a Fatal Flaw

Most government contractors recognize the importance of scrupulously maintaining their registration in the System of Award Management (SAM). Given the numerous reasons to ensure that a company’s SAM registration is accurate, complete, and up-to-date, many contractors understandably obsess over making sure that the contents of their registration are absolutely correct. Such attention to detail…

 

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