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Government Contracts Monitor

Short Take: Agencies Don’t Tailor Their Requirements to Fit Your Needs

March 9, 2015

By: Lindsay Simmons

WKF Friedman Enterprises (WKF) protested the terms of a solicitation issued by the Defense Logistics Agency for 74,274 tank track pads, asserting that the solicitation requirement for offers to be submitted on an “all or none” basis was unduly restrictive of competition.  WKF Friedman Enterprises, B-410827.  GAO disagreed.

WKF wanted to submit an offer for less than half of the required number of track pads and, therefore, protested DLA’s elimination of the possibility for multiple awards by its imposition of the solicitation requirement to propose on an “all or none” basis.

True enough, an agency generally is required to “specify its needs and solicit offers in a manner designed to achieve full and open competition, so that all responsible sources are permitted to compete,” and can include restrictive provisions “only to the extent necessary to satisfy the agency's needs or as authorized by law.”  In this regard, an agency has the burden of establishing that a specification is reasonably necessary to meet its needs.  But this is not a heavy burden.

Here, DLA simply explained it needed track pads to support multiple programs and that, given the uncertainty and volatility in demand, a single source of supply was required to ensure all “mission requirements are satisfied”.  That was enough for GAO.

WKF could not demonstrate the agency was unreasonable in choosing to procure the entire quantity from one source.  Thus, although WKF, like many contractors in similar situations, wanted the agency to consider multiple awards, the mandate for full and open competition does not require an agency to modify its mission-related needs to accommodate the limited capabilities of a particular offeror.

Lindsay Simmons is responsible for the contents of this Short Take.
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