Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Kingdomware Technologies
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Cancellation of a FedBid buy after receipt of bids or quotations was reasonable, where the solicitation did not clearly inform vendors as to the nature of the procurement or the basis upon which award would be made.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Kingdomware Technologies protested the cancellation of a FedBid buy order for emergency notification system services. The solicitation did not identify whether it was an IFB or RFQ, but vendors were informed that “bids” would be ranked by price, and that bid would be evaluated using criteria other than price. After receipt of bids/quotations, the agency asked firms a number of questions concerning the technical merits of their bids or quotations. Kingdomware protested, contending that it was entitled to award as lowest-priced bidder. The agency announced it would take corrective action by cancelling the solicitation.
Kingdomware contended that the solicitation was an IFB that provided for award to the lowest-priced bidder, which the agency countered that the solicitation was an RFQ that provided for award on a cost/technical tradeoff basis. Although the procurement more closely resembled a negotiated competition, the GAO concluded that cancellation was proper even under the more stringent standard applicable to IFBs after bid opening. Because vendors were not properly apprised of the basis upon which their submissions would be evaluated, the cancellation was reasonable.
The standards for cancelling a solicitation after receipt of bids or quotations differ. While an agency only needs to establish a reasonable basis to cancel an RFQ, it must offer a compelling reason to cancel an IFB after receipt of sealed bids. However, the GAO considers the basis by which submissions will be evaluated to be a fundamental requirement to a solicitation, and will support the cancellation of a solicitation lacking this provision.