Friday, February 19, 2016

Court of Claims Overturns GAO Late Proposal Decision

Back in 2014, Federal Acquisition Services Team, LLC (FAST) submitted a proposal to the Air Force that was ultimately rejected as undeliverable by the agency's server for exceeding the applicable size limitation (20mb). FAS appealed the Air Force's decision not to consider its proposal but the GAO (Comptroller General or CG) denied the protest on the grounds that it is the offeror's responsibility to deliver its proposal to the proper place at the proper time. Moreover, the CG didn't want to consider arguments that there was a systematic failure of the Air Force's systems even though FAST cited one additional company whose proposal was similarly rejected. You can read the entire GAO bid protest decision here.

That was not the end of the story. FAST appealed the CG decision to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Ultimately, the CoFC overturned the CG decision based on its findings that the CG decision was based on incomplete facts. Based on evidence provided to the CG by the Air Force, there were two other examples where a bidder's proposals were rejected as too large. Those two bidders were able to submit smaller file sizes prior to the cut-off date.

However, after the CG decision, the Air Force determined that there were seven other bidder rejections, none of which were rejected based on file size. That changed everything and it appeared that there was a systemic problem with the Government's email systems.

The CoFC granted injunctive relief to FAST ordering that
...the United States ... its Contracting Officer, its other officers, agents, servnats, employees, and representatives, and all persons acting in concert and participating with them respecting the procurement under Solicitation No. .... are hereby PERMANENTLY RESTRAINED AND ENJOINED from making an award under Solicitation No. ... unless the proposal sent by (FAST) ... is accepted and evaluated on the same terms as other proposals already accepted.
That doesn't mean FAST will ultimately be awarded the contract - it only means that the company now has a fair shot at the competition.

You can read the entire Court of Federal Claims decision here.

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