Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Social Security Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denies the protest of Harmonia Holdings, LLC, a small business, based on the terms of a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA), for geographic information system (GIS) services to support the SSA’s emergency preparedness mission. Harmonia argued that (1) the RFP fails to provide adequate information about existing software for prospective offerors to prepare proposals, (2) the SSA did not allow offerors sufficient time to prepare proposals, and (3) the SSA should prohibit the incumbent contractor from competing due to an organizational conflict of interest (OCI).
GAO first denied the protest where Harmonia did not show that the RFP was inadequate to allow offerors to compete intelligently and on a relatively equal basis in the procurement for commercial services. Even though GAO agreed that offerors bear some risk in pricing the requirement for increasing the software speed, that fact alone does not demonstrate that an RFP is defective. GAO also denied the protest where the RFP provided sufficient information for offerors to prepare proposals, and GAO saw no basis to conclude that the SSA’s decision not to extend the closing date affected the competition adversely here. Finally, GAO denied the protest where Harmonia’s protest arguments lacked the hard facts required for GAO to sustain a protest on the basis that the incumbent contractor should be excluded from the competition. Although cast as an OCI argument, Harmonia generally only contended that the contractor was the incumbent contractor, and thus, that it had a competitive advantage in the competition here. GAO found that Harmonia did not provide any evidence that the contractor prepared the RFP or set its ground rules, had unequal access to non-public information of the nature that gives rise to an OCI, or otherwise had impaired objectivity in its performance of this contract.