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Joseph Petrillo

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Everything posted by Joseph Petrillo

  1. Moda Health Plan, Inc. is one of dozens of insurers who sued when the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) failed to reimburse them for losses incurred as a result of participation in the healthcare marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court of Federal Claims (COFC), and later the Federal Circuit, were tasked with determining whether there had been a contract by conduct set up between the Government and insurers. Despite success at the COFC, the Federal Circuit eventually denied Moda’s case. The case serves as a cautionary tale for companies considering entering into similar Government programs. Read the full article here.
  2. Recently, after losing a contract for full line food service with the Defense Logistics Agency, a company protested at GAO. At the heart of their protest was the fact that the agency had used a solicitation criterion to assess their proposal that hadn’t been shared with bidders during the solicitation. GAO was tasked with judging whether the procurement had been handled fairly, and ultimately, they sided with the losing bidder. GAO’s ruling has implications for contractors who find themselves surprised to lose out on contracts due to undisclosed evaluation criteria. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell.
  3. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the name for a series of annual laws laying out the Department of Defense’s (DoD) budget for its various programs and activities. It also is a favorite vehicle for Congress to legislate how it wants DoD to operate (a companion bill, the Appropriations Act, actually funds the Department). As Congress debates the 2019 NDAA, the DoD continues to tackle tasks from previous bills. Three recent developments stemming from earlier NDAAs may be of particular interest to Defense contractors. Read the full article at Petrillo Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  4. On May 1, 2018 the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which hears and decides the majority of federal bid protests each year, made some important rule changes. Some of these changes can have significant implications for lawyers and the contractors they represent. Read on to learn more about the most important rule changes, and how they might affect you if you find yourself in a GAO protest. Read the full article here.
  5. The Federal Government is amping up its efforts to mitigate threats to cybersecurity. You might think that the Department of Homeland Security would be the agency concerned with mitigating risk stemming from cyber threats. But a recent case at the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) shows that Government’s preoccupation with cybersecurity extends to all agencies. In this case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) needed new printers, but was determined to avoid supply chain risks that they felt one bidder’s offer posed. The COFC sided with the agency in this case, which raises the question whether the Federal Government should centralize such decisions. Read the full article here.
  6. A pair of large contracts for administrative services with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are great but two pairs are better. In a recent case, National Government Services, a company holding multiple contracts with CMS, protested when agency rules prevented them from competing for several more. Ultimately, the agency was able to successfully defend the limitations written into their solicitation, and the case provides a template for other agencies that may find themselves in similar circumstances. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  7. A competitor protested when an Energy Department (DoE) contract awardee proposed an unusual plan for processing radioactive liquid waste. Given the apparent riskiness of the winner’s proposition, it’s not surprising that GAO sustained the protest. What is surprising (and remains a mystery) is how the agency assessed the winning proposal’s technical approach as sound. Read on to learn how one protestor succeeded because of an agency’s murky evaluation. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  8. In February the General Service Administration (GSA) rolled out a new contracting clause addressing Commercial Supplier Agreements (CSA). It expands a 2013 clause that made some common commercial license terms unenforceable. Now, many other terms found in commercial licenses (especially for IT) no longer apply to GSA contracts. The clause invalidates these terms – even if they make it into the contract. Read on to learn about which parts of such agreements are targeted, at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  9. Companies who’ve lost out on a contract award can seek more information by requesting a debriefing, a post-award explanation of why they failed to secure a contract, with an opportunity to pose questions. But debriefings don’t always reveal enough information. Now, thanks to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DoD agencies must provide enhanced debriefings with the goal of helping bidders get more information sooner after learning they’ve lost a contract. How will enhanced debriefings affect the landscape of Defense acquisition, and does the new requirement pave the way for more meaningful debriefings for all FAR procurements? Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  10. The Section 809 Panel, created in section 809 of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is charged with recommending improvements to the defense acquisition process. In January 2018 the panel released their first volume of three, which provides guidance for simplifying the DoD procurement process in ways that could benefit contractors. Their insights shed light on the obstacles contractors face, and pave the road for changes in law to help overcome them. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  11. Congratulations: you’ve certified as small business for federal contracting purposes. In a typical contract setting, you keep your size status for the life of the contract. But in the instance of a merger or acquisition or if a contract lasts longer than 5 years, you must recertify to maintain your size status. For multiple-award contracts, the Contracting Officer is also given a good deal of latitude in terms of whether a small business must recertify for an individual order. In a recent case, Unissant, Inc. protested the size status of a competitor who’d recently earned a task order award. Read on to learn what small businesses contractors need to know about small business status in light of this case. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  12. When the Department of Defense (DoD) sought restrictions on bid protests, Congress made them commission a study to validate their case. That study, authored by the RAND Corporation, looks at bid protests during the 9-year period from 2008-2016. The study indicates a significant increase in the number of bid protests over that time period. That trend alone bolsters the DoD’s case. But a further look at the extensive data from RAND’s study suggests otherwise, and provides critical insights for Defense contractors. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  13. As 2018 gets underway, contractors may find that the current administration’s priorities spell out changes to existing contracts. If the program under which you hold a contract doesn’t fit in with new management, your contract may be at risk for termination for convenience. Read on to find out when a contract you hold may be in danger, and what you can do to mitigate costs relating to a contract the Government terminated for convenience. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  14. It sounds simple. In Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) procurements, the agency determines the best value proposal by identifying those that are technically acceptable and then selecting the one with the lowest price. But there’s a wrinkle when this technique is used for a cost-reimbursement contract. Smartronix’s recent protest at GAO illustrates that proposing the lowest cost doesn’t always win you the contract, even when you’re technically acceptable. Specifically, contractors if the proposed cost is too low, the Government can adjust it upwards. Read on to learn more about this problem and how to avoid it. To read the full article, visit Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  15. In a best value procurement, being roughly as good as the competition and offering a slightly lower price doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win the contract. Such was the case for DynCorp, which offered a lower price and a comparable CPARS score to the incumbent, L-3 Communications. When DynCorp lost the re-competition for Air Force logistics support, they protested at GAO. But savviness on the part of the agency saved the award. To read the full article, visit Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  16. Federal contractors often hire former agency employees. But rules exist that can place limitations on the business activities of past officials who seek to work with the agency by which they were previously employed. So what happens when a bidder thinks that a competitor has an unfair advantage because it has hired such a former official? A recent protest decision sheds some light on how agencies and GAO proceed when facing such a perceived conflict of interest. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  17. For the last several years, the DoD has bulked up regulations aimed at detecting and preventing electronic counterfeit parts within Government contracts. Two major clauses apply these regulations to defense contractors: “Contractor Counterfeit Electronic Part Detection and Avoidance System,” and “Sources of Electronic Parts.” Here’s a summary of the main points of each clause. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  18. Statute and regulation prevent public access to contractor past performance information. That said, contractors who contest poor performance reviews in Court or at a board may unintentionally put themselves at risk to have the details of the matter released in a public decision. Such was the case for Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, whose recent protest at the COFC inadvertently lead to their performance issues becoming a matter of public record. The case serves as a cautionary tale for other contractors considering whether to contest a poor performance review. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  19. Sometimes multiple contractors earn spots on Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, which allow for an undetermined quantity of supplies or services during a fixed period of time, as outlined in FAR. But what happens when winning contractors have reservations about the competitors who earn contracts alongside them? DaeKee Global Co. found itself in such a situation, and reacted by protesting the terms of the solicitation. Read on to learn how GAO and the COFC responded to such protests, and what this means for contractors concerned about their bedfellows in IDIQ contracts. To read the full article, visit Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  20. The Contractor Performance Assessment Reports System (CPARS) allows agencies to rate the contractors with which they do business. A poor CPARS rating is a fairly serious matter for contractors, and can impair them from getting future contracts. Fortunately, contractors who feel they’ve unfairly received a negative review can file a claim under the Contract Disputes Act. But the process for attempting to correct a negative rating can be arduous, and relief is limited. The case of Vanquish Worldwide, LLC v. United States of America provides a solid template of what to do – and what not to do – for contractors who find themselves in a similar situation. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  21. VATEP is a new method of acquisition that the DoD announced in April 2016. VATEP, which stands for Value Adjusted Total Evaluated Price, is a variant on best value procurements, and seeks to quantify technical superiority in dollar terms when there is a cost/technical tradeoff. It should, in theory, make it easier for the contractor to understand how much it will be rewarded for offering a technically superior proposal. It should also make it easier for the Government to evaluate such proposals. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of competing for VATEP procurements.
  22. In the case of Veterans Technology, LLC and MDW Associates, LLC (MDW), small business size status was endangered by a high level of subcontracting with a small business. The SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (“OHA”) applied a rule of thumb to disqualify an awardee as a small business. The Court of Federal Claims (COFC) intervened and reversed the determination. This case illustrates two important issues: (1) Size determinations are subject to SBA rules, and sometimes principles not in those rules that are adopted by SBA’s OHA. (2) If an adverse size determination leads to loss of a contract award, the COFC can review the decision, and if warranted, overturn it. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  23. After the proposal due date, the rule is that late changes or revisions are not accepted, with certain narrow exceptions spelled out in regulation. However, GAO has carved out its own exception when key personnel become unavailable. Such was the case when the YWCA protested a recent Labor Department award. GAO held that after proposal submission, an agency cannot accept a replacement for a key person who becomes unavailable without opening discussions with all offerors in the competitive range. The case highlights some of issues that arise for offerors when personnel changes occur after proposals are submitted. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  24. In two recent cases, disappointed contractors protested when agencies failed to request clarifications or open discussions. Both Defense Base Services and Level 3 argued that the issues with their proposals could have been remedied if given the chance. GAO denied both offerors’ protests. Yet when Level 3 persisted at the COFC, the judge concluded that an agency’s failure to request clarifications constituted an abuse of discretion. The cases illustrate the difference in the way GAO and the COFC view clarifications and discussions, and shed insight for offerors under similar circumstances. Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
  25. An offeror protested an award by the U.S. Forest Service when the agency’s solicitation appeared to favor a competitor, but the protest was denied at GAO. The Simplex Aerospace decision, in comparison to the recent case of PSI, raises the question of whether disappointed contractors are better served by filing protests with GAO or the Court of Federal Claims. Does the decision of where to file really mean the difference between a win and a loss in the world of Government contracts? Read the full article at Petrillo & Powell's Patterns of Procurement.
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