Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Major Contracting Services, Inc.
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest arguing that solicitation improperly restricts competition in violation of the Competition in Contracting Act by consolidating portable latrine waste disposal services with waste disposal services for permanent latrines is denied where the record supports the agency’s conclusion that combining the requirements is reasonably necessary to meet the agency’s needs.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Major Contracting Services, Inc. (MCS) protested the consolidation of requirements for sanitary waste disposal services for portable latrines with disposal services for permanent latrines (including septic tanks) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. MCS protested the initial solicitation on the grounds that it improperly restricted competition by bundling. The agency took corrective action by cancelling that solicitation. It then issued an RFI to over one hundred small businesses that perform the services in question, including MCS, focusing on whether those companies had the capability to perform the entire requirement and whether the companies would submit offers for both requirements if they were split. The six respondents (of which MCS was not one) indicated that they perform both permanent and portable latrine services and expressed a preference for consolidation. Based on the responses, the agency determined that there were several businesses capable of performing the combined requirement and that splitting the requirements would limit competition, and issued the current protested solicitation.
The GAO found that the record confirmed the agency’s findings regarding the cost savings achieved through consolidation and the reasonableness of its decision to combine the portable and permanent latrine disposal requirements. It pointed out that the respondents to the RFI expressly indicated that separating the requirements would increase their prices. The GAO found no basis to question the propriety of the agency’s decision to procure the services on a combined basis.
In deciding to consolidate requirements, agencies must have a reasonable basis for the conclusion that consolidation is required to meet its needs. Administrative convenience is insufficient, but substantial cost savings through reduction of duplicative efforts and operational efficiencies may provide a reasonable basis for consolidation. If an agency is considering consolidation of services which your company provides, respond to any agency RFIs and state honestly whether the consolidation would have a positive or negative impact on your company’s ability to compete for the requirement. The agency may decide to move forward with consolidation even if your company would be incapable of providing the consolidated services.