Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Defense Logistics Agency
Disposition: Protests denied.
Keywords: Cancellation of a Solicitation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Where a protester alleges that an agency’s rationale for cancelling an RFP is a pretext to avoid resolving a protest, GAO reviews that agency’s rationale to ensure that the agency has a reasonable basis for the cancellation.
Progressive Services Corporation (PSC) protests the cancellation of requests for quotations (RFQ), issued by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), for lumber.
The RFQs were issued for the delivery of lumber to the Defense Distribution Depot in Germersheim, Germany. The RFQs provided that award would be made on a best value basis, considering price, delivery, and past performance. The RFQs further provided that past performance would be determined by review of government records of prior deliveries by the offeror and quality of material delivered.
Following initial award of a contract to Forest Products Distributors, Inc., PSC protested that the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s past performance was unreasonable. DLA advised GAO that it had terminated both purchase orders and the underlying RFQs in order to re-examine the agency’s past performance evaluation methodology and to ensure that the methodology is appropriate to meet the agency’s needs.
PSC argues that DLA’s rationale for canceling the two RFQs was a pretext to avoid the protests.
GAO states that contracting officials in negotiated procurements have broad discretion to take corrective action where the agency determines that such action is necessary to ensure fair and impartial competition. Where, as here, a protester alleges that an agency’s rationale for cancellation is but a pretext to avoid resolving a protest, GAO reviews that agency’s rationale to ensure that the agency has a reasonable basis for the cancellation.
DLA explained that, as a result of the protests, the agency began a review of the methodology it used to evaluate quotations, and realized that the RFQ did not adequately advise offeror’s as to how past performance would be evaluated. DLA further explained that it would resolicit the procurement after its review was complete. GAO states that it is fundamental that vendors should be advised of the basis on which their quotations will be evaluated. The Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 requires contracting agencies to set forth in a solicitation all significant evaluation factors and their relative importance. Correcting the agency’s error to allow for a fair and equal competition provides a reasonable basis for canceling the solicitations. Accordingly, GAO does not find that the agency’s cancellation of the RFQs was a pretext to avoid GAO’s review. The protest is denied.