(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the General Services Administration.)
The General Services Administration already is facing two protests over its multi- billion dollar OASIS multiple award contract.
It’s been a week since GSA released the request for proposals for One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) multiple award contracts, and it’s now facing one agency level pre-award protest and another objection to the Government Accountability Office.
Rudy Sutherland, the head of practice for Aljucar, Anvil-Incus and Company, confirmed his firm filed a bid protest at the agency level, saying the evaluation criteria in the RFP is unfair.
“Essentially, Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Co. (AA-I & Co.) asserts that the pass/fail requirements for relevant experience on pg. 101 of the OASIS unrestricted solicitation is unduly restrictive of competition,” Sutherland said by email.
“Specifically, despite discerning through its market research that the scale of the task-orders that will be completed as unrestricted requirements, which generally correlate with what is defined in the Small Business Act (as amended) as ‘bundled’ or ‘consolidated’ contract opportunities, and is generally pursued by small business through teaming joint ventures that are formed specifically to meet the complexity, capacity, and value of that requirement — the GSA nevertheless, explicitly and unduly restricts the use of real-time small business teaming and aggregation of past performance for competition.
“In addition, by consequence of this burden, GSA places the unreasonable expectation on small businesses that they should have known about, prepared, and pre-emptively formed joint ventures; obtaining the necessary past performance for a contract instrument which had never existed. This logic and rationale is negatively circular because, had small businesses had the wherewithal to do so, the GSA OASIS contract instruments (Small Business and Unrestricted) would conceivably have little value in today’s marketplace,” the email continued.
GAO also confirmed a second protest. USfalcon, Inc., filed its objection to the RFP Aug. 9. The audit agency says it will decide the protest no later than Nov. 18.
“The USfalcon, Inc. protest challenges the terms of the solicitation, not an award decision,” said a GAO spokesman. “We cannot comment on the arguments raised until the case is completed.”
An email to USfalcon seeking comment on its bid protest was not immediately returned.
The agency-level protest, which vendors usually do before going to GAO, stated the evaluation criteria is “arbitrary, restricts competition, and does not reasonably relate to the agency or its customers’ needs in choosing a contractor or contractors that will best serve the government’s interest,” according to a copy of the protest.
Aljucar, Anvil-Incus and Company also state in its protest that the unrestricted pass/fail requirements conflict with federal policy letting vendors enter into a joint venture and combine performance, quality, cost and delivery factors in a bid.
“AA-I & Co. contends that the solicitation renders most small businesses ineligible for positive past performance ratings and thus discounts and nullifies the past performance of firms that may not have individual contracts valued at $3 million per year, but have performed $3 million or more of professional service work when taken in the aggregate representation of a team,” Sutherland said. “AA-I & Co. argues that small businesses, such as itself, that perform $3 million of professional service work annually under multiple contracts and on teams demonstrate strong management capabilities, coordination, and management resources, and should be considered in this form for positive past performance ratings on OASIS unrestricted.”
In a statement from GSA, the agency said it encourages small businesses to submit their questions during the OASIS RFP process.
“GSA has made it a top priority to work closely with both our industry and federal partners throughout the OASIS RFP process,” said a GSA spokesperson. “As part of our strategy to ensure small business opportunity and participation, the OASIS solicitation includes a program called OASIS Small Business, which is a 100 percent small business set aside. GSA urges industry to consider both solicitations carefully and to submit any questions to clarify any confusion around small business participation. Ultimately, OASIS will strengthen the federal government by reducing costs and expenses, minimizing contract duplication and improving efficiency. It will also benefit our industry partners and maximize opportunities for small businesses. The unrestricted contract includes 50 percent small business subcontracting goals.”
According to the Federal Acquisition Regulations, agencies receiving an agency- level protest must stay the awards and decide the case within 35 days.
Industry sources say the protests are not surprising as GSA has regularly heard concerns during the development of the OASIS solicitation.
“We’ve been telling them a commercial company would be challenged to come in and demonstrate past performance based on the criteria they’ve set,” said one industry official, who requested anonymity because they didn’t get permission to talk to the press. “The issue of how they grade companies is something industry has been calling to their attention and problem for some time. GSA didn’t fix it.”
The official said several associations have been asking for more equity between commercial and government companies for the last several months.
In fact, TechAmerica wrote to GSA in May that the “OASIS evaluation criteria and structure, however, is inconsistent with the goal of identifying ‘best-in-class’ companies. Many ‘best-in-class’ companies have demonstrated relevant experience in the commercial and intelligence community markets.”