The AbilityOne program is among the nation's largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. The program is administered by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, which is the operating name for the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.
The Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (JWOD) and its implementing regulations are intended to increase employment and training opportunities for persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities through authorization of the noncompetitive acquisition of specified products and services from qualified nonprofit agencies (NPAs) that employ persons with such disabilities. The Act established the AbilityOne Commission and granted exclusive authority to the Commission to establish and maintain a procurement list of products and services that must be purchased from qualified NPAs.
In 2004, custodial services at the Charlottesville Courthouse were added to the AbilityOne procurement list. Since that time, Goodwill Industries of Roanoke Virginia has performed the custodial services at the courthouse.
The current lease expires at the end of this year and GSA (General Services Administration) is negotiating a lease renewal with the building's owner, VVP, LLC. This new lease was intended to be a full-service lease that would include custodial services. GSA informed Goodwill that it would no longer contract directly with them and had no authority to direct VVP to use any particular contractor.
Goodwill protested on the basis that GSA's actions violated the requirements of the JWOD Act. Specifically, Goodwill maintained that GSA is required to either contract directly with Goodwill for custodial services or direct VVP to subcontract for those services.
GSA asserted that the award of a lease for real property is not subject to the requirements of the JWOD Act.
GAO (Government Accountability Office) disagreed with GSA and sustained Goodwill's protest. GAO stated that a real property lease is a contract, leases are subject to socioeconomic programs, GSA offered no statutory provision that would exclude leases from JWOD.