Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Joint Venture; SDVO Set-Aside
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Where the solicitation requires offerors to be SDVO small businesses and verified by the VA’s VetBiz program, a proposal from a joint venture, which itself is not listed in the VetBiz database, is not eligible for award, even though the SDVO member of the joint venture may be so listed.
A1 Procurement, JVG, a joint venture (A1) protests the rejection of its proposal and the award of a contract to another offeror, under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) set-aside for ground maintenance services.
With regard to the procurement at issue, the RFP was issued as an SDVOSB set?aside for the award of a fixed-price contract for grounds maintenance services at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in California. Offerors were informed that award would be made on a best value basis, considering technical capability, past performance, and price.
A1 Procurement, LLC, and Green Carpet finalized a joint venture agreement forming A1 Procurement, JVG. The joint venture submitted its proposal to the VA on the due date. The VA rejected A1’s proposal because its proposed price was significantly below the government cost estimate and the prices of the other offerors. A1 protested. GAO sustained the protest because the record did not show that the agency’s price evaluation was reasonable. GAO recommended that the agency reevaluate the protester’s proposal, and as a part of this reevaluation, consider whether the joint venture was an eligible SDVOSB concern to receive award. Subsequent to our decision, the VA rejected A1’s proposal because the joint venture, which was stated to be a separate entity, was not listed in the VetBiz database. The VA also determined that A1’s joint venture agreement provided that the small-business partner in the joint venture would perform substantially all of the work required by the contract, which the VA found violated the subcontracting limitations in VAAR.
Al JVG protests that the VA’s rejection of its proposal was unreasonable because the contracting officer erroneously concluded that the joint venture was not listed in the VetBiz database. GAO agrees with the VA’s conclusion that A1 was not eligible to receive award under the VA’s regulations. Contrary to A1’s arguments, the VA’s regulations do not exempt a joint venture from the requirement that it must be listed in the VetBiz database to be eligible for award. The offeror here is A1 JVG, and A1 JVG, as opposed to A1 LLC, is not listed. In sum, given that the joint venture is not listed in the VetBiz database, which the VA has required in its implementation of this program, the contracting officer reasonably rejected A1’s proposal as ineligible for award. The protest is denied.