A recent GAO decision has shed light on the question of what an agency must do to adequately promote competition during a simplified acquisition.
There is still no bright line for determining which agency actions meet this threshold. However, the recent decision in Bluehorse Corp., B-415641 et al. (Feb. 6, 2018), established that merely inquiring about a solicitation, without taking further action as recommended by the procuring agency, is not enough to force an agency to include a company in a limited competition.
To promote contracting efficiency, the FAR allows for special simplified acquisition procedures to be applied to certain procurements that do not exceed the regulatory threshold. An agency is not required to use the ordinary full and open competition standards to conduct these simplified acquisition procurements. However, what exactly is required of a federal agency under a simplified acquisition procedure has yet to be clearly defined by the applicable provisions of the FAR and the relevant GAO case law. The FAR requires the agency to “promote competition to the maximum extent practicable” and establishes that this standard can generally be met through the solicitation of at least three sources. See FAR § 13.104.
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