Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: American Medical Response
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that Department of Veterans Affairs unreasonably set aside an acquisition for service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses is denied where record shows that agency’s market research demonstrated that at least two such firms would likely submit proposals and that award could be made at a fair and reasonable price; the fact that none of the firms had a county-issued license at the time of the agency decision to set aside the acquisition is immaterial to the propriety of the agency’s decision.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
American Medical Response (AMR) protested the terms of an RFP for non-emergency wheelchair/stretcher transportation services for the southeastern United States. AMR argued that the agency improperly issued the RFP as a SDVOSB set-aside, maintaining that none of the prospective SDVOSB offerors are licensed by the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (HCPTC) as required by the RFP.
The GAO noted that the agency properly conducted market research to determine whether there was a reasonable expectation that at least two SDVOSBs would submit offers and that award could be made at a fair and reasonable price. The GAO rejected the argument regarding lack of licenses, noting that general solicitation provisions requiring a contractor to obtain all necessary licenses and permits do not require that offerors demonstrate compliance before award.
The VA is required to consider setting aside a procurement for SDVOSBs or VOSBs before conducting full and open competition or procuring through another set-aside. When determining whether to set aside a requirement for SDVOSBs, an agency is required to conduct market research to determine whether there is a reasonable expectation that offers will be received from at least two SDVOSB firms and that award can be made at a fair and reasonable price. While a disappointed prospective offeror may wish to challenge an SDVOSB set-aside, it should remember that the GAO will generally defer to the agency’s determination so long as the research was reasonable.