Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Crosstown Courier Service, Inc.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that Department of Veterans Affairs improperly set aside a Federal Supply Schedule task order acquisition for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses is denied where record shows that agency’s actions were an unobjectionable exercise of its authority to acquire goods and services using “other than competitive procedures” pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 8127(b).
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Crosstown Courier Service, Inc. protested the proposed issuance of a task order to Medical Logistic Solutions, Inc. (MLS) for courier services to transport biological samples from three community-based outpatient clinics to the VA Medical Center in Sacramento, California. Crosstown claimed that the agency failed to comply with the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (the VA Act) by conducting the acquisition as an FSS SDVOSB set-aside.
The GAO first pointed out that the statutory authority relied on by Crosstown, 38 U.S.C. § 8127(d), does not require the VA to conduct its market research exclusively on the open market, as opposed to among FSS vendors. Noting that the agency only received an expression of interest from one SDVOSB concern in response to its FSS source sought notice, the GAO concluded that the agency could not have properly set aside the acquisition under the FSS pursuant to the authority provided by § 8127(d). However, the GAO then determined that the agency could confine its acquisition to MLS under § 8127(b), which gives the VA authority to use “other than competitive procedures” to award to SDVOSB vendors for requirements valued below the simplified acquisition threshold. Because the contract at issue was valued at only $9,990, there was no requirement that the agency conduct market research before making an award to an SDVOSB concern.
Although the GAO has repeatedly held that the VA must first determine whether a requirement can be set aside for SDVOSB or VOSB concerns prior to proceeding with full and open competition, or some other method of procurement, it does not need to conduct market research based on the open market for all acquisitions. Where, as here, the requirement is valued at below the simplified acquisition threshold, the VA may use other than competitive procedures without conducting any market research.