Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Business Computer Applications, Inc.
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest challenging an agency’s decision to cancel a task order solicitation is denied where the level of effort required in the solicitation had to be cut by 43 percent because of significant funding reductions.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Business Computer Applications, Inc. (BCA) protested the cancellation of a request for task order proposals (RFTOP), issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to provide information management services on a level of effort basis to support the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. BCA also protested the placement of an order to Northrop Grumman under that firm’s FSS contract for staffing support until an award is made under a revised solicitation. The RFTOP was issued to four small business contractors holding multiple award ID/IQ contracts with the CDC; all four submitted proposals. BCA protested an initial award to 2020 Company, Ltd; the agency indicated it would take corrective action. Before making award following the corrective action, however, the agency received its new budget, which necessitated the reduction of 43 percent of the level of effort for the RFTOP. The agency decided it was in the government’s best interests to cancel the solicitation and reissue based on the reduced requirements.
The GAO disagreed that the agency did not have a reasonable basis to cancel the solicitation, pointing out that cancellation is appropriate where the agency finds that its needs are no longer accurately reflected by an RFP. The GAO found the significant reduction in level of effort as a result of the budget reductions and other changes in the requirement to provide a reasonable basis for the cancellation. Finally, the GAO found without merit BCA’s argument that the interim contract awarded to Northrop Grumman would provide unfair access to information by 2020 Company as a subcontractor.
Protestors must remember that agencies have broad discretion to cancel solicitations in negotiated procurements, even after proposals have been submitted and evaluated. So long as the agency had a reasonable basis for the cancellation, the GAO is unlikely to sustain a protest objecting to a cancellation.