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Centre Law & Consulting

In a decision on July 10, 2017, the GAO found that an agency reasonably canceled its solicitation after a protest where the agency’s requirements were time dependent.

Tien Walker, a small business, protested the cancelation of the solicitation issued by the Department of State for public opinion polling surveys to be conducted in South Asia. Specifically, the selected contractor was to conduct two public opinion surveys in Afghanistan, with the first survey to be completed before the start of the Muslim observance of Ramadan. Before the solicitation’s closing time, Tien Walker filed a protest with the GAO alleging that the solicitation was unduly restrictive and not properly set aside for small businesses. In response, the Department of State notified that GAO that it had canceled the solicitation and would not resolicit the polling survey. The GAO then dismissed Tien Walker’s protest as academic.

Tien Walker has now protested the cancelation of the solicitation as improper. Specifically, Tien Walker argued that the Department of State unreasonably canceled the solicitation as a pretext to avoid the GAO’s review of its protest.

In denying the protest, the GAO noted that a contracting agency has broad discretion in deciding whether to cancel a solicitation. The GAO further noted that an agency need only establish a reasonable basis to support its decision to cancel a solicitation. Where a protester argues that the agency’s rational for cancellation of a solicitation is mere pretext, the GAO will nonetheless still examine the reasonableness of the agency’s actions.

The Department of State’s rationale for canceling the solicitation relied upon the required stay of contract award and performance due to Tien Walker’s initial protest. The agency further clarified that even if Tien Walker’s first protest was denied, no contractor would have been able to complete the first survey prior to Ramadan. Therefore, the GAO found that the agency’s rationale for canceling the solicitation was reasonable and was not a pretext to avoid awarding the contract on a competitive basis. As such, the GAO denied the protest.


About the Author:

Heather Mims | Centre Law & Consulting in Tysons VA Heather Mims
Associate Attorney

Heather Mims is an associate attorney at Centre Law & Consulting. Her practice is primarily focused on government contracts law, employment law, and litigation. Heather graduated magna cum laude from the George Mason School of Law where she was the Senior Research Editor for the Law Review and a Writing Fellow.

The post Agency Found to Have Reasonably Canceled Solicitation Due to Protest appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting.

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Centre Law & Consulting

A New Source Selection Procedure You May Not Know | Centre Law & Consulting in Tysons VA
In April 2016, the Department of Defense (DoD) published a memorandum expanding DoD Source Selection Procedures beyond Tradeoff and Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) to include Value Adjusted Total Evaluated Price (VATEP) Tradeoff. This newer procedure’s intent is to help define how the government evaluates contractor capabilities that go beyond minimum requirements and reach the government’s objective.

Although it’s been an option since April, we’re finding that many people still are unfamiliar with it. And we’ve certainly not seen it used in many solicitations yet either.

What does VATEP do?

VATEP Tradeoff monetizes a contractor’s performance and capabilities that exceed the minimum threshold and reach a maximum level. It provides a dollar amount or percentage that would then be “credited” to the contractor’s price proposal. This “credit” will not affect the amount awarded, only the government evaluated price. It is important to keep in mind that if the contractor’s price falls outside the affordability cap, this “credit” would still not bring a price below it.

For example, let’s say the government wants a chair made. The government states that the chair needs a minimum of three legs so it won’t fall over, but they would prefer a chair with four legs. Being the entrepreneur that you are, you have the capability to make chairs that have both three and four legs. Making a chair with three legs is considerably cheaper than four, but you are not sure how much the government values that extra leg if a traditional Best Value Tradeoff evaluation was used. VATEP puts a dollar figure on that leg, which would then be subtracted from your proposed price to reach the government evaluated price.

How does it help me?

By putting a specific value on a contractor’s performance and capabilities that reach the objective level, it provides the contractor clarity on whether to pursue additional performance beyond the government’s minimum requirements. If a company know it will cost them $500 to put that extra leg on all the chairs and the government only values the leg at $250, then the company knows it should only offer the government the three-legged chair instead.

This new procedure certainly won’t make sense for every requirement, but it does offer the government a way to make the process less cryptic. Could we see more agencies start to use this?

Only time will tell.

About the Author

Michael Glazer | Centre Law & Consulting in Tysons VA Colin Johnson
Contracts Manager

Colin Johnson is a Contracts Manager who focuses on business development and federal contracts management. His expertise is in preparing quotes and responses for both government and commercial entities for training and legal support services.


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Centre Law & Consulting

Bid Protest: “Professional Compensation” Sinks Contract Award | Centre Law & Consulting in Tysons, VA
Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the public version of its decision sustaining the protest of contractor A-P-T Research, Inc. with respect to a procurement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for various support services. In addition to a potential impaired objectivity organizational conflict of interest, the protest was sustained because the awardee’s proposed professional compensation was at the low end of the experience and compensation scales used for evaluation. With that, the contemporaneous record lacked a reasoned basis for finding the professional compensation and related costs to be acceptable or realistic.

Because a cost-reimbursement contract’s cost is driven in significant measure by labor costs, the procuring agency is required to evaluate each offeror’s direct labor rates to ensure that they are realistic. The purpose of a review of compensation for professional employees under the provision at FAR § 52.222-46 is to determine whether offerors will obtain and keep the quality of professional services needed for adequate contract performance and to evaluate whether offerors understand the nature of the work to be performed. As the FAR provision states, the “professional compensation proposed will be considered in terms of its impact upon recruiting and retention, its realism, and its consistency with a total plan for compensation.” Further supporting information including “data, such as recognized national and regional compensation surveys and studies of professional, public, and private organizations, used in establishing the total compensation structure” are to be provided.

In brief, the Agency sustained the protest because “the record contains no meaningful explanation of how [NASA] concluded that [the awardee] would be able to retain” the proposed incumbent employees at the compensation offered, which would result in significant pay decreases. Rather, the record contained only general statements that concerns regarding compensation had been addressed via discussions.

Notably, the Agency did not express a view on the argument that FAR § 52.222-46 requires a direct comparison of proposed compensation and actual incumbent compensation rates. However, it is clear that under-cutting on professional salaries can be a dangerous gambit.

About the Author:

David Warner | Centre Law & Consulting David Warner

David Warner is a seasoned legal counselor with extensive experience in the resolution and litigation of complex employment and business disputes. His practice is focused on the government contractor, nonprofit, and hospitality industries. David leads Centre’s audit, investigation, and litigation practices.


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Centre Law & Consulting

On April 18, 2017, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to amend its regulations to adopt and incorporate the U.S Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) revisions for 2017, identified as “NAICS 2017.”  SBA proposes to adopt the updated table of size standards effective October 1, 2017, to coincide with beginning of the government’s next fiscal year.

NAICS 2017 creates 21 new industries by reclassifying, combining or splitting 29 existing industries under changes made in “NAICS 2012.”

SBA’s proposed size standards for the 21 new industries have resulted in an increase in size standards for six NAICS 2012 industries and part of one, a decrease to size standards for two, a change in the size standards measure from average gross annual receipts to average number of employees for one industry.  There are no changes for 20 industries and part of one.

SBA included six tables in its proposed rule showing the changes, which occur in the following NAICS Sectors:  21, Mining; 33, Manufacturing; 45, Retail Trade; 51, Information; 53, Real Estate and Rental Leasing; 54, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; and 72, Accommodation and Food Services.  We recommend consulting these tables if your business is engaged in one of these NAICS Sectors to determine if your business is impacted by the changes.

A note to large business prime contractors with Small Business Subcontracting Plans:  These changes could also impact the size status of your suppliers and subcontractors which may impact your ability to meet your Small Business Subcontracting Goals.

Why are NAICS Codes Important to Federal Contractors?

NAICS classifies business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. economy.  NAICS Industry Codes define establishments based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged.

NAICS Codes are important in the conduct of U.S. Government procurements, as a NAICS Code is assigned to each procurement by the procuring contracting officer.  NAICS Codes have a size standard assigned by SBA which will determine whether a business is small or other than small (large) business in response to a government procurement.  Companies may be a small business under one NAICS Code, and other than small (large) business under another.  Click here to view SBA’s Size Standards Table, updated February 26, 2016.

The corresponding size standard to a NAICS Code assigned by the contracting officer to a government procurement is especially important when the procurement is conducted using a set-aside for small business, as it will determine a company’s eligibility to participate under a small business set-aside.

More Information on NAICS Codes

Visit the U.S Census Bureau’s North American Industry Classification System website where you can use their useful tool to search NAICS by key word, sector, or NAICS Code:



About the Author:

Wayne Simpson | Centre Law & Consulting Wayne Simpson

Wayne Simpson is a seasoned former Federal executive and acquisition professional who is also a highly-motivated and demonstrative small business advocate, with nearly 38 years of Federal Civilian Service with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and its predecessor organization, the Veterans Administration.


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Centre Law & Consulting

Journalist Michael Kinsley once said, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” The same can now be said of unions talking about Executive Order 13673 regarding “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.”

Now, who could possibly object to fair pay and safe workplaces? Well, let’s let the Teamsters for a Democratic Union explain the obvious truth (that they aren’t supposed to say) about how the reporting and “blacklisting” aspects of that that innocuous sounding executive order will work in practice. In an August 22 blog post entitled Obama ‘Blacklisting’ Rule – New Leverage for Unions, the union posits the following scenario (complete with colorful dialogue):

Consider a union that strikes an auto plant for a new contract. Soon after workers hit the bricks, the union president has the following conversation with the general manager.

Morris, we are two weeks into this goddam strike and the company shows no sign of accepting a fair labor agreement. That is your prerogative, but I think you need to take a fresh look. For one thing, we have filed six ULP charges over the company’s failure to provide information, illegal surveillance, and intimidation on the picket line – and are getting ready to file three more. The NLRB investigator has indicated that he will be recommending complaints on at least four of our charges.

You say that the NLRB is toothless but you are apparently unaware that the rules of the game have drastically changed. Under a new Order issued by the President, a federal contractor that incurs NLRB or other labor law complaints must report them to federal contracting agencies and face the prospect of losing existing and future contracts. Putting it plainly: unless you settle this strike within the next few days and the union withdraws its charges, you are likely to be marked as a “repeat labor law offender,” one of the highest categories of wrongdoing under the President’s Order. Check this out with your hotshot legal team.

Counting all of its divisions, this corporation has federal contracts in the hundreds of millions. Do you really want to jeopardize this pot of gold to save a few hundred thousand dollars in the union contact?

“Fair” indeed. And welcome, contractors, to the “obvious truth” that the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order will be a powerful new tool for union organizing campaigns.

About the Author:

David Warner | Centre Law & Consulting David Warner

David Warner is a seasoned counselor in the resolution and litigation of complex employment and business disputes. His practice is focused on the government contractor, nonprofit, and hospitality industries. David has extensive experience representing contractors in affirmative action, Davis-Bacon Act, and Service Contract Act compliance audits. He also represents businesses with regard to wage and hour compliance, DOL audits, and litigation.


The post “Kinsley Gaffes” and Safe Workplaces appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting.

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