Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Multiple Bid Protests Lead to RFP Cancellation

In 2013, the Air Force issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for comprehensive fleet management for various special-purpose vehicles and trailers to support base stand-ups and continued operations of the Saudi F-15 aircraft fleet. The Air Force initially selected SupplyCore's proposal for award. However that award held up because two "disappointed" offerors protested to the GAO (Government Accountability Office). The GAO sustained the protest so the Air Force had to conduct additional analyses and evaluations. After that, the Air Force, once again, selected SupplyCore's proposal for award. This time, three "disappointed" offerors protested the bid, which, in November 2015, the GAO sustained their protests. After the GAO tossed out the second award, the Air Force notified the offerors that it was cancelling the solicitation. The Air Force informed the offerors that, given the amount of time that has passed between the original solicitation and the second GAO protest decision, the program team was asked to perform a re-assessment of the needs and determined that the services were no longer required.

SupplyCore didn't like the Air Force's cancellation, calling it unreasonable. SupplyCore alleged that the cancellation was a pretext to avoid implementing corrective action in response to GAO's prior decisions. The Air Force contended that canceling the solicitation was reasonable due to material changes to the scope and timing of the services and supplies required under the solicitation.

This time, the GAO did not sustain the protest. GAO wrote "In a negotiated procurement ... a contracting agency has broad discretion in deciding whether to cancel a solicitation, and need only establish a reasonable basis for doing so.... A reasonable basis to cancel exists when .... an agency determines that a solicitation does not accurately reflect it needs."

The GAO found that the Air Force's decision to cancel the solicitation was reasonable. In fact, the GAO ruled that, under the circumstances, the Air Force took the only appropriate action by canceling the solicitation.

Presumably, if the Air Force had been forced to award a contract under the original solicitation, it could have simply terminated the contract for the convenience of the Government, thereby accomplishing the same thing.

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