Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Patriot Construction, Inc.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency improperly awarded construction contract to firm whose state contractor’s license had been suspended is denied because possession of state license is a matter of responsibility, and therefore awardee was properly allowed to rectify its license status after proposal due date and did so promptly.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Patriot Construction, Inc. protested the award to K.O.O. Construction, Inc. of a contract for storm drain expansion at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, Menlo Park Division, California. The RFP provided for award to the lowest-priced, technically-acceptable proposal, considering prime contractor’s project experience, project personnel experience, technical/management approach, past performance, copy of contractor’s license from the SDVOSB prime contractor, and price. After K.O.O.’s selection, Patriot provided the CO with information indicating that K.O.O.’s license had been suspended for failure to comply with an outstanding civil judgment. K.O.O. responded with a letter from the state indicating that K.O.O. had satisfied the judgment and that the state had no objections to reinstatement of its license, and then informed the agency that its license had been reinstated.
Patriot argued that K.O.O.’s FPR should have been considered technically unacceptable because its license was suspended at the time, and that K.O.O. had deceived the agency by submitting its license without stating that it was suspended. The GAO rejected these arguments, noting that whether an offeror lacks a required license is a matter of contractor responsibility, which is a matter left largely to the discretion of the CO.
The GAO will generally not consider objections to an affirmative determination of responsibility unless definitive responsibility criteria in the solicitation were not met or the agency unreasonably failed to consider relevant information in reaching a particular responsibility determination. In many procurements, the fact that an offeror does not possess a particular license at the time of proposal submission will not be grounds to reject their offer so long as they obtain the relevant licenses by the time of contract performance.