Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Agency decision to cancel request for quotations was reasonable where, due to the passage of time and other factors, the agency requirement no longer exists.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Mr. Scott alleges that the stated reasons for the cancellation of the RFP were a pretext for subverting the competitive process in this procurement. GAO states that a contracting agency need only establish a reasonable basis to support a decision to cancel an RFQ. In this regard, GAO has found the cancellation of an solicitation to be reasonable where the agency determines that it no longer has a requirement for the item solicited, or where the agency discovers an existing contract for its requirement would be more advantageous to the government than continuing with the procurement. Here, the record shows that the agency had a reasonable basis to cancel the RFQ.
As explained by the Deputy Director of USACE RDO, the ASIP was initiated in April 2008, at which time a government team was assembled to develop ASIP capabilities, methodologies, and tools. The ASIP project thus was underway prior to issuance of the RFQ in question here, and the ASIP team continued to work through, and following, this cancelled USACE procurement. According to the Deputy Director, the procurement here was intended to provide low-level assistance to augment the government team in their refinement of the ASIP’s capabilities. However, since this procurement effort began, there has been an increase in interest in Afghanistan reconstruction and stability operations, and a commensurate increase in the level of activity in this area, including the development of strategies, models, and plans by groups independent of ASIP activities. Many of the products and analyses developed by these groups are similar to those solicited in the RFQ, and since this procurement effort began, several developments have affected USACE’s requirements, as well as the need for the tasks outlined in the RFQ.
With respect to Mr. Scott’s argument that the agency’s conduct during the procurement, and its justification for cancellation of the RFQ, were a pretext for avoiding the competitive process, the record shows that the major portion of the activities undertaken by non-ASIP entities, later identified as duplicative of the tasks required under the RFQ here, occurred prior to receipt of quotations on July 6. Therefore, there is no basis to conclude that any delay or difficulty in the agency’s evaluation of quotations was a pretext for subverting the competitive process, as Mr. Scott argues. While it is unfortunate that USACE was not more aware of multinational efforts taking place in Afghanistan during the development of the procurement effort here, an agency may properly cancel a solicitation no matter when the information precipitating the cancellation first surfaces or should have been known. The protest is denied.