Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of American Medical Equipment Company (AMEC), regarding the terms of a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for home oxygen services for beneficiaries in Veterans Integrated Service Network 16 (VISN 16).
The RFP was issued as a partial small business set-aside, and provided for the award of two requirements contracts, each with a one-year base period and four one-year options. Prior to issuing the solicitation, the Contracting Officer (CO) conducted market research to assess the interest and capability of small business concerns with respect to the VISN 16 home oxygen requirements. This research included consulting with technical and program experts, searching several government databases, reviewing the recent procurement history of four other VISNs, and issuing a Request for Information (RFI). The VA also received 14 responses to the RFI, seven of which were from small businesses. Two of the small businesses indicated that they were interested in providing services for only a portion of VISN 16. In reviewing the capability statements submitted by the small businesses, the CO determined that they did not demonstrate the capability to successfully provide home oxygen services to the entirety of VISN 16. Specifically, the CO found that the interested small businesses did not demonstrate that they had experience (in terms of geographic scope, number of patients, and dollar value) comparable to the VISN 16 requirements. The CO also noted that none of the small businesses that responded to the RFI indicated that they currently had the necessary personnel, supplies, equipment, or facilities to serve VISN 16, although some indicated that they would acquire them if awarded the contract. Based on the above-described market research, the CO determined the VISN 16 requirements were not suitable for a small business set-aside.
AMEC challenges the VA’s decision to set aside only a portion of the VISN 16 requirements for home oxygen services. Based on a review of the government databases as well as her prior market research, the CO concluded that there was not a reasonable expectation that offers would be received from two or more small businesses capable of providing home oxygen services to all of VISN 16. Moreover, after deciding to change the NAICS code, the CO advised a VA small business specialist of the change and explained her determination that the procurement approach should remain the same. The small business specialist concurred with this decision. Accordingly, GAO found no basis to conclude that the CO acted unreasonably in deciding not to reissue the RFI.