GAO faults ‘unreasonable market research’ for failure to set aside contract for SDVOSBs

In an August 20, 2015 ruling, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) conducted insufficient market research in connection with an acquisition and therefore had no grounds for denying set-aside status to the contract.

VA sealThe VA issued an RFP on April 27, 2015, as a small business set-aside, requesting proposals to provide fire and life safety A/E services for Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 20 region medical centers located in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.

Fire Risk Management, Inc. (FRM), of Bath, Maine, protested the bid based on the VA’s failure to set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) concerns.  FRM asserted that the VA’s decision not to set aside the acquisition for SDVOSBs was based on unreasonable market research.

In defending its decision, the VA stated its belief that it would not receive proposals from at least two responsible SDVOSB concerns that could meet the requirements in the RFP at a fair market price.  But the GAO disagreed, concluding that the VA’s determination that there was not a reasonable expectation that offers would be received from at least two SDVOSB firms that are capable of performing the required work was not supported by the record.

The GAO found that the VA’s contract record did not support the agency’s determination to limit its market research to firms only within the VISN 20 region.  The GAO took note of the fact that the VA’s contract specialist, in a database search specifically directed by the contracting officer, found more than 127 profiles of SDVOSB concerns nationwide “matching the criteria.”  The GAO concluded that had the agency expanded its market research beyond the VISN 20 region it would have discovered numerous SDVOSB A/E concerns doing fire protection work.

In its decision, the GAO recommend that the VA’s contracting officer conduct a proper market survey in accordance with the agency’s requirements for this procurement to ascertain whether there is a reasonable expectation that at least two or more responsible SDVOSB concerns will submit proposals at fair market prices.   The GAO also recommend that the VA reimburse the FRM for the reasonable costs of filing and pursuing the protest, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.  The protester’s certified claim for costs, detailing the time spent and the costs incurred, must be submitted to the VA within 60 days after receipt of the GAO’s decision.

The text of the GAO’s full decision can be found at: http://www.gao.gov/products/B-411552#mt=e-report.

 

 

New GSA tool helps buyers search open, closed and canceled eBuy RFQs

For years, the federal acquisition community has been wishing for simpler access to the kind of information they need to make smarter purchases and save taxpayers dollars.

Now, GSA’s new “eBuy Open” is delivering that critical market research through an easy to use interactive web platform designed with their needs in mind.

Category Management

The eBuy Open tool helps customers leverage best practices and lessons-learned from across the federal acquisition community. According to GSA, eBuy Open helps buyers quickly search open, closed, and canceled eBuy Requests for Quotes (RFQs) from FY14 forward, showing which agencies are requesting what products and services from GSA Schedules. Digging deeper unearths other valuable information, such as how other buyers draft their documents to get the best quotes from industry, and when specific products and services are purchased. Use of the the tool can support market research and the search for acquisition examples.

eBuy Open is now live on GSA’s Acquisition Gateway.  Questions about eBuy Open or the Acquisition Gateway may be directed to: hallways_site_manager@gsa.gov

Georgia Tech hosts matchmaking event to aid multiple SE federal agencies in small business outreach

On Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, Georgia Tech will play host to six federal agencies holding an industry day forum for small businesses in the southeast region of the United States.  

NOTE: As of Jan. 16, 2015, this event is booked to capacity, and no further registrations are being accepted.

The event is being sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) and the regional office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and is being sponsored on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

The event, billed as “Building Partnerships and Collaborating for Success, a Small Business Industry Day and Matchmaking Event,” is open to all businesses in the region who wish to learn more about doing business with  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

In addition to federal agencies, representatives of major prime contractors also are expected to be present, including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, ICF International, RTI International, WYLE, Westat, Deloitte, and DB Consulting Group, Inc.

Businesses interested in participating in this event must preregister at: http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/ConferenceDetail.action?ID=7954.

 

Could big-data analytics improve federal procurement?

Big data could be an important tool for federal procurement shops, but its usefulness depends on finding quality data and understanding how to use it to track vendor performance and pricing.

Several recent studies — a Government Accountability Office report, a CIO survey by TechAmerica and the IBM Institute for Business Value’s “Chief Procurement Officer Study” — all point to the same conclusion: Analytics and acquisition need to go to more of the same parties.

The Oct. 9 GAO report states that many agencies’ incomplete methods of performing market research affect their ability to make informed decisions about procurements.

Federal agencies are required by law to conduct market research, which the Federal Acquisition Regulation defines as the process used to collect and analyze data about capabilities in the market that could satisfy an agency’s procurement needs.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/10/10/big-data-procurement.aspx

GAO: Agencies not taking advantage of market research on lower dollar contracts

Federal agencies are taking advantage of market research for big dollar procurements, but are missing those opportunities for smaller contracts, an Oct. 9, 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says.

All 28 contracts GAO reviewed included some evidence of the market research conducted. The contracts GAO reviewed were pulled from the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department, Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Department.

The market research conducted on the 12 higher dollar contracts GAO reviewed tended to be more robust and include more techniques that involved outreach to vendors, such as issuing requests for information to industry. That helped promote competition, the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gao-agencies-not-taking-advantage-market-research-lower-dollar-contracts/2014-10-13