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GSA's small biz teaming restrictions take a hit

A small business as won another shot at getting on the General Services Administration's "OASIS" contract after the Government Accountability Office ruled in that company's favor.

Ekagra Partners successfully challenged GSA’s restriction on using past performance of teammates as part of their proposal for OASIS. The company is bidding as part of the on-ramp process for the $60 billion vehicle for complex professional services.

So far in that process, GSA has only made awards for the unrestricted portion of Pool 2 while awards for the other six pools are in progress.

Ekagra was bidding for Pool 1 as part of a mentor-protege joint venture and argued the OASIS solicitation improperly restricted competition by limiting the ways these kinds of joint ventures could submit their bids.

GSA released the on-ramp solicitation in September. Among the requirements for submitting past performance and experience qualifications, GSA told bidders to pool qualification projects and show responsibility for overall performance.

Bidders also had to provide relevant projects that show their experience and show examples of how they managed multiple customers or managed a multiple award program.

Ekagra claimed GSA was limiting how much of the mentor’s experience could be used. They also said that the solicitation limited their ability to form teams with other companies that weren’t part of the joint venture because their experience wouldn’t count.

They argued that the limits on the mentor experience violated the laws and regulations that govern mentor-protege relationships.

The original OASIS solicitation (for the awards made in 2014) had the same restrictions but federal law has changed since then and that opened up the broader use of past performance.

GSA argued that to evaluate the mentor-protege joint venture and their teammates was too much of an administrative burden. GAO didn’t buy this either, saying that the arrangement didn’t seem more complex than a single prime and their teammates.

GAO ruled that Ekagra was prejudiced by the restrictions in the solicitation. GSA needs to re-evaluate its justification for the restrictions. If GSA can't find a justification, it needs to amend the solicitation and request revised proposals.

It sounds like this decision has the potential to unlock opportunities for other mentor-protege firms that are bidding on the OASIS on-ramp.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 19, 2019 at 1:00 PM


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