One protester says the General Services Administration is going too far in wanting all the details that roll into a fixed-price proposal if the items are commercially-available from the start.
The General Services Administration's massive OASIS+ solicitation is asking bidders for information that the agency just shouldn’t ask for: at least that is what Boston Consulting Group is saying in a new bid protest.
OASIS+ is the follow-on to the current OASIS contract vehicle that agencies can use to buy a wide-range of professional services.
OASIS+ will have no ceiling and be much larger than the current iteration as it consolidates requirements from these two other multiple-award contracts: Human Capital and Training Solutions, and Building Maintenance and Operations
BCG is arguing that GSA wants bidders to provide a cost breakdown of their fixed prices. GSA wants to know about direct labor rates, fringe benefits, general and administrative rates, and profit margins that roll up into the fixed prices.
That requirement is inconsistent with procurement regulations and the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, BCG is arguing. The firm also claims the requirement is unduly restrictive of competition.
The FAR section to focus on for this case is 15.404.1, which describes proposal analysis techniques.
GSA can use a price analysis that relies on comparing price data for the same or similar items. The agency can also compare prices among bidders and look at historical pricing.
A price analysis should be conducted “without evaluating its separate cost elements and proposed profits,” according to the regulation.
BCG is complaining that GSA shouldn’t be asking for a breakdown of the fixed price items because they are commercially-available items. According to the regulation, GSA should only ask for the breakdown if that is the only means to determine the price as fair and reasonable.
The argument goes that GSA is asking for too much because these are commercial items and there are other avenues for determining the reasonableness of the prices.
It will be interesting to watch this argument play out at the Government Accountability Office and if GSA decides to stick with its approach, plus whether other protests follow. There are several caveats in the FAR on when to use a price analysis, but the regulation appears to state preference for what BCG is arguing.
BCG filed its protest in late August and decision from GAO is due Dec. 6. Proposals for OASIS+ are due Sept. 22.
We should know in the next couple weeks if GSA reworks the solicitation through a corrective action to address BCG's complaint.
If it goes the distance at GAO, a decision in BCG’s favor would be significant. If GAO sides with GSA, it will likely be just business as usual.