Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest that solicitation requirement for Aerial Remotely Piloted Vehicle Target System including scoring hardware and services is unduly restrictive is denied where record established that the requirements were reasonably designed to ensure that the agency’s actual needs would be met, and the protester failed to establish either that it is incapable of meeting specifications or is otherwise competitively harmed by them.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
TWS primarily challenges the agency’s decision to include the scoring system requirement with the purchase of the RPVT. TWS does not argue that this requirement makes it impossible for TWS to compete but rather contends that complying is difficult and costly. While TWS ultimately concedes that there is no advantage to the government in separating the scoring services from the RPVT, it contends that the government should conduct the testing to determine the qualifications of competing scoring systems. GAO states that in preparing a solicitation, a contracting agency must specify its needs and solicit offers in a manner designed to obtain full and open competition and may include restrictive provisions or conditions only to the extent that they are necessary to satisfy the agency’s needs. A contracting agency has the discretion to determine its needs and the best method to accommodate them. Because any specification or solicitation requirement is restrictive in the sense that something is required of offerors, we only consider protests of restrictions that have an effect on competition, such as where a restriction precludes a firm from competing or works to its disadvantage in a competition. Where a protester challenges a specification as unduly restrictive, the procuring agency has the burden of showing that the specification is reasonably necessary to meet its needs; GAO will review the agency’s explanation to determine if it is reasonable, that is, whether it can withstand logical scrutiny.
TWS has failed to show that the decision to include the scoring system requirement in this procurement does not represent the agency’s needs. In any event, the agency here acknowledges that in the past it procured the scoring system under a separate contract, but explains that since the requirement for scoring services has been vastly reduced, the previous method of issuing two contracts to support the training mission was excessively expensive and cumbersome to the government. The agency also explains that incorporating the scoring system requirement into the larger RPVT contract will permit a more efficient use of government resources, enable the target services provider to select the most appropriate scoring system, and provide the government a single point of contract for targetry missions. The agency notes that while three qualified scoring system vendors were identified in the RFP, any other scoring systems proposed would be considered by the government if they meet the RFP requirements. Given these facts, and the arguments raised, GAO concludes the agency has reasonably supported its determination to procure all its target mission requirements under one solicitation. The protest is denied.