Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Crosstown Courier Service, Inc.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest challenging an agency’s decision not to set aside a procurement for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) is denied where the agency concluded from its market research that it did not have a reasonable expectation of receiving proposals from two or more SDVOSBs capable of performing the required services.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Crosstown Courier Service, Inc. (CCS) protested the terms of an RFP, issued as a small business set-aside, for medical courier and dry ice delivery services for the VA Salt Lake City (Utah) Health Care System (VASLCHCS) and several CBOCs in Idaho. In conducting market research on VIP prior to issuing the solicitation, the CO identified 63 SDVOSBs/VOSBs and 52 SDVOSBs under the applicable NAICS code, but the search identified only a single vendor in Utah (and none in Idaho). When she performed a second search several months later, that vendor was no longer listed in VIP. Because there were no SDVOSB/VOSB concerns in Utah or Idaho, where the majority of delivery sites were located, the CO determined that a small business set-aside was appropriate.
The GAO found that the agency’s market research and resulting set-aside determination were reasonable. While the RFP did not restrict competition to firms located in the geographical area of performance, the GAO found nothing unreasonable in the CO’s market research focusing on that area and the likelihood of whether firms from outside it would respond to the RFP. While CCS was currently performing similar services in Montana, it did not identify any other VIP-listed SDVOSB that would be interested in competing for the requirement.
The VA is required to consider setting aside all procurements for SDVOSBs or VOSBs prior to proceeding to a different set-aside or full and open competition. If the CO believes that offers will be received from two or more eligible SDVOSBs, and that award can be made at a fair and reasonable price, the requirement must be set aside for SDVOSBs. Eligible SDVOSB companies should obtain CVE verification and maintain up-to-date information in the VIP database, including all applicable NAICS codes. If a sources sought notice or RFI is issued, interested companies should reach out to other SDVOSBs to express interest to ensure that the agency identifies at least two eligible companies.