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FAR 13.101(b)1:  "all-or-none" or "multiple award"

Comptroller General - Key Excerpts

Section 13.101(b)(1) of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) expressly recognizes that either single or multiple awards are permissible in the context of simplified acquisitions, and our Office has consistently held that where, as here, a solicitation does not require a single award, multiple awards may be made. See, e.g., Weather Experts, Inc., B-255103, Feb. 9, 1994, 94-1 CPD para. 93 at 3 (invitation for bids (IFB)); Goodman Ball, Inc., B‑217318, Mar. 25, 1985, 85-1 CPD para. 348 at 3 (IFB). Given that it was within the agency’s discretion to make either a single award or multiple awards, we review for reasonableness the agency’s exercise of that discretion in making a single award to Fisher Scientific. See Weather Experts, Inc., supra; American Bank Note Co., B‑222589, Sept. 18, 1986, 86-2 CPD para. 316 (RFP). Although the FAR recognizes that multiple awards may be made under FAR Part 13 procurements, neither the FAR nor case law provides any specific guidance as to when multiple awards are either appropriate or required in these procurements. The FAR does, however, provide guidance regarding single or multiple awards in the context of sealed bidding and negotiated acquisitions. For example, in the context of sealed bidding, the FAR advises that IFBs are to provide for multiple awards where the contracting officer determines that multiple awards “might be made if doing so is economically advantageous to the Government.” FAR sect. 14.201-6(q). Section 14.201-8(c) of the FAR adds that after the receipt of bids, “[t]he contracting officer shall assume, for the purpose of making multiple awards, that $500 would be the administrative cost to the Government for issuing and administering each contract awarded under a solicitation,” and that “[i]ndividual awards shall be for the items or combinations of items that result in the lowest aggregate cost to the Government, including the assumed administrative costs.” In the context of negotiated acquisitions, the FAR requires that RFPs inform offerors that “the Government reserves the right to make multiple awards if, after considering the additional administrative costs, it is in the Government’s best interest to do so.” FAR sect. 52.215-1(f)(6); see FAR sect. 15.209(a) (requiring the inclusion of FAR sect. 52.215-1). Although neither Part 14 or Part 15 of the FAR is applicable to the simplified acquisition here, we believe the above‑referenced provisions of these parts are instructive regarding the reasonableness of the agency’s determination that multiple awards were not in the government’s best interests. The agency explains with regard to its determination to make a single award to Fisher Scientific as follows:

This award was for a fixed amount of items that are consistently offered commercially by vendors. The rationale for making one award was mainly due to making sound business and financial sense. To make multiple awards would create an administrative financial burden as well as ineffective use of Government resources. For example, to make more than one award on one requisition, it would create the same amount of administrative burden/resources for each subsequent award (i.e., staff time, administrative costs, shipping costs, etc.). Given the small amount of the procurement ($32,159.12), it would have been a minimal saving for splitting this into two awards. So, in turn, one order is financially beneficially to the Government than making more than one award to multiple vendors. Thus, the Government determined that it was in its best interest to make one complete award which provide the best value for the Government. Contracting Officer’s Supplemental Statement at 1.

Contrary to the agency’s assumptions regarding the potential savings that could be achieved given the “small amount of the procurement,” a review of the item-by-item prices quoted by Para Scientific and Fisher Scientific reveals that Para Scientific’s prices for six of the items are substantially less than the prices quoted by Fisher Scientific, and that the agency would have saved the government, absent the consideration of any administrative costs incurred, a total of $8,363.97, had the agency made an award to Para Scientific for those items.[6] Given that in an IFB context the administrative expenses are assumed to be $500 for each additional award, the savings that could have been achieved through an additional award to Para Scientific would appear to more than offset any additional administrative costs the agency would have incurred, and as such, there is nothing in the record to suggest that it would have been other than “economically advantageous to the Government” or other than “in the Government’s best interest” to make such an award.[7] See FAR sections 14.201-6(c), 52.215-1(f)(6); Weather Experts, Inc., supra. Accordingly, we find that the agency’s determination here lacks a reasonable basis, and that the agency should have awarded an additional contract under this RFQ to Para Scientific for the six items for which Para Scientific quoted lower prices. (Para Scientific Company, B-299046.2, February 13, 2007) (pdf)

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For the Government For the Protester
  Para Scientific Company, B-299046.2, February 13, 2007 (pdf)
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