Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Disposition: Protest denied.
Procuring agency had a reasonable basis to cancel request for proposals for the design and construction of a Rescue Swimmer Training Facility where the solicitation no longer accurately reflects the agency’s requirements and substantial changes to the scope of the project are necessary that may result in increased competition and a decrease in overall costs.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Blue Rock contends that the cancellation was improper and violated FAR sect. 14.404.1(a)(3). It also argues that the cancellation was discriminatory towards HUBZone small business concerns and the HUBZone small business program because, in Blue Rock’s view, the expanded project will no longer be appropriate for a HUBZone small business set-aside. GAO states that as explained in the agency’s response to the agency-level protest, an agency, in a negotiated procurement, has broad authority to decide whether to cancel a solicitation, and needs only a reasonable basis to do so. A reasonable basis for cancellation exists when a solicitation does not accurately reflect the agency’s requirements, particularly where cancellation of the solicitation and the issuance of a revised solicitation would present the potential for increased competition, efficiencies or cost savings. If a reasonable basis exists to cancel a solicitation, an agency may cancel the solicitation regardless of when the information first surfaces or should have been known, even if the solicitation is not canceled until after proposals have been submitted and evaluated.
In its report in answer to this protest, the agency advises that it cancelled this solicitation because the current RFP no longer reflects its requirements, and because a substantially revised RFP is being developed, which is expected to result in greater competition and in lower overall cost. The agency reports that the pool construction project was originally planned to include both the Rescue Swimmer Training Facility and the Dunker Facility, but the agency decided to delay construction of the Dunker Facility because of a lack of funding. The agency explains that these plans have changed because Congress has now made funds available for both projects. Thus, the agency explains that it will be more efficient to build the entire complex as one project within one building, rather than adding the second feature later. In this regard, the agency states that the efficiencies of combining the two projects include, among other things: single site mobilization and demobilization, better coordinated building design, better coordinated construction, reinstatement of certain of the deleted original scope requirements for the swimmer training facility, and a reduction in the overall construction time.
GAO finds that it has no basis to question the agency’s determination that having one facility to house its water training requirements results in a more efficient training operation. The increased scope of work associated with combining these training requirements in one facility means that the current RFP does not reflect the agency’s requirements. For these reasons, GAO finds that the agency reasonably decided to cancel this RFP. The protest is denied.