Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging agency’s decision to cancel solicitation is denied where the cancellation decision was reasonably based on determination that the agency’s requirements have changed since the time the solicitation was issued.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
ARI argues that the agency’s decision did not have a reasonable basis to cancel the RFP. GAO states that in a negotiated procurement such as this one, a contracting agency has broad discretion in deciding whether to cancel a solicitation, and need only establish a reasonable basis for doing so. A reasonable basis to cancel exists when, for example, an agency determines that a solicitation does not accurately reflect its needs, or where there is a material increase in the services needed to satisfy the agency’s requirements; in such cases, cancellation of the solicitation and issuance of a revised solicitation is appropriate.
Here, the Chief of TETRA has represented that since the time the solicitation was issued in December 2007, TETRA’s mission has evolved to become focused on threat resource adequacy and, as a consequence, TETRA will require more technical support . . . rather than the programmatic support as solicited in 2007. In addition, TETRA explained that it needed to reassess its support requirements in light of in-sourcing efforts, which include the augmentation of TETRA’s permanent workforce with interns and Air Force Flight 199 [Reservists] with up to 2 [full time equivalents]. Based on the change in requirements, TETRA withdrew funding from the Army for the solicitation to allow TETRA time to develop new requirements, which will be issued under a new solicitation at a future date. Given that TETRA, not ARI, is in the best position to identify its requirements, and in light of the deference afforded agencies in identifying their needs, GAO views ARI’s reliance on the agency’s use of the term adequacy, coupled with its own beliefs regarding the nature of the agency’s requirements, to be an inadequate basis for GAO to question the agency’s representations regarding its changed needs. Moreover, GAO does not find the activities performed by TETRA’s temporary support contractor, while TETRA redrafts its requirements, to be relevant indicia of whether TETRA’s needs have changed since the issuance of the original solicitation in December 2007, given that TETRA is still in the process of crafting a new solicitation to reflect its changed requirements. The protest is denied.