Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Disposition: Request denied in part, granted in part.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO considered the request of Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation (WPS) that GAO recommend reimbursement of the costs WPS incurred in filing and pursuing its protest challenging the award of a contract by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to National Government Services, Inc. (NGS) pursuant to a request for proposals (RFP) to perform Medicare claims administration services.
Following the selection of an awardee, protests were filed challenging that selection decision. Thereafter, the agency cancelled the award, amended the solicitation, and sought new proposals. WPS submitted a request for GAO’s recommendation that WPS be reimbursed “for the costs of all issue[s] pursued in its protest” following WPS’s protest challenging the agency’s ultimate source selection decision.
In its protest, WPS challenged the agency’s evaluation of NGS’s FPR with regard to its reduction of FTEs. GAO found that the record established that WPS’s protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of NGS’s insufficiently documented reduction of FTEs in its FPR was clearly meritorious. The issue was also first raised in a supplemental protest WPS filed. In responding to this specific issue, the agency maintained that its evaluation of NGS’s FPR was proper–first, defending its evaluation in the agency report submitted to GAO and, thereafter, during the hearing conducted by GAO.
The agency took corrective action, but GAO found that a reasonable agency inquiry into WPS’s allegation would have revealed facts showing the absence of a defensible legal position. On this basis, GAO concluded that the agency unduly delayed taking corrective action in the face of a clearly meritorious protest. GAO also noted that none of the multiple other protest allegations raised by WPS met the clearly meritorious standard necessary for cost reimbursement recommendation.