Matter of: Monbo International Group
Date: November 21, 2022
Dee Monbo, Monbo Group International, for the protester.
David A. Lank, Esq., Department of Health and Human Services, for the agency.
Katherine I. Riback, Esq., and Alexander O. Levine, Esq., General Counsel’s Office, GAO, assisted in the preparation of the decision.
1. The protest challenging the agency’s decision to take corrective action by rescinding the solicitation is dismissed when the agency had a reasonable basis to rescind the solicitation.
2. The protest challenging the agency’s decision to re-solicit the requirement as a task order issued under an existing contract vehicle is rejected when the value of the task order falls below the competence threshold of our Office’s task order.
Monbo Group International, a small business in Owings Mills, Maryland, is protesting corrective action taken by the Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following Monbo’s earlier protest against the FDA issuance of mission order to Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Inc., of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The work order was issued under Request for Quotation (RFQ) No. FDA-22-RFQ-1250996, for a research specialist to support FDA diversity research on drug readiness. current challenges in HIV diagnosis and blood safety. The protester argues that the agency’s decision to rescind the solicitation and acquire the position via a work order under a separate contract is improper.
We deny the protest.
In May 2022, the agency issued the RFP, under General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule Contract GS-02F-0197X, for a Level 2 Postgraduate Research Specialist/Biologist position. II. AR, Tab 3, RFQ, Statement of Work at 1. The RFP Statement of Work included certain requirements for the postdoctoral position, referred to as “preferred essential criteria”, such as “[e]ten or more years of training in the safe handling of human blood samples. ID. The RFP did not specify that vendors were required to submit a candidate’s resume for technical evaluation. The call for tenders provided that the agency would award the lowest technically acceptable estimate. ID. At 11 o’clock.
The agency received three quotes in response to the RFP, with each vendor submitting only one quote. AR, Tab 2, Contracting Officer (COS) Statement at 2. The contracting officer determined that resumes of potential candidates from each supplier were required to ensure that candidates met the RFQ requirements. The agency then asked vendors to submit the resumes of their potential candidates and performed a technical evaluation by comparing each resume to the statement of job requirements. Based on this evaluation, the agency determined that Oak Ridge was the least expensive and technically acceptable supplier, and awarded that company. Identifier.
On July 31, Monbo filed a protest against the Oak Ridge award with our office. In its protest, Monbo argued that awarding the agency to Oak Ridge was inappropriate because Monbo had offered the lowest technically acceptable bid. AR, Tab 4, Monbo’s protest at 3. After reviewing Monbo’s protest, the agency determined that the solicitation was vague and did not properly describe the agency’s requirements because the price request did not sufficiently require information from suppliers, such as resumes, for the agency. to accurately determine whether a supplier can successfully meet requirements. ID.; Tab 5, Brief on file (August 12, 2022) at 2.
The agency also determined that an existing FDA-issued Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract for scientific support services, which has been reserved for 8(a) companies, would better meet the needs of the agency. agency. AR, Tab 7, Contract IDIQ at 23. The agency then announced corrective action to terminate the award to Oak Ridge, cancel the RFQ, and re-solicit the requirement using Contract IDIQ existing. CS at 2; AR, Tab 6, Agency Corrective Action Notice. Specifically, the agency issued a work order to Midnight Sun Technologies, LLC, of Vienna, Virginia, under IDIQ contract #75F40122D0000 for a total estimated value of $336,230. Response to GAO request (November 15, 2022).
Our office dismissed Monbo’s protest as academic on August 18. Monbo International Group, B-420925, 18 August 2022 (unpublished decision). This protest challenging the corrective measures proposed by the agency followed.
Monbo challenges the corrective actions taken by the agency, in particular its cancellation of the RFQ and its decision to acquire the position of research specialist via a mission order under an existing IDIQ. In this regard, the protester argues that the initial solicitation provided enough information for the agency to accurately determine its needs. The protester further argues that the agency failed to properly consider Monbo’s technical quote when crafting its remedial measures. The agency responds that it reasonably decided to cancel the solicitation because the solicitation as issued did not clearly specify the information the agency required from vendors to determine whether their applicants met the minimum qualification requirements. of the solicitation, and the FDA subsequently determined that another contract vehicle would better meet its needs.
Generally, agencies have wide discretion to take corrective action where they have determined that such action is necessary to ensure fair and unbiased competition. Quotient, Inc., B-416473.4, B-416473.5, March 12, 2019, 2019 CPD ¶ 106 at 3. We will not object to any particular remedy, so long as it is appropriate to address the concern that caused the agency to take action corrective. DGC InternationalB-410364.2, November 26, 2014, 2014 CPD ¶ 343 at 3. Further, a contracting agency has broad discretion in deciding whether to rescind a solicitation, and need only establish a reasonable basis for do it. KNAPP Logistics Automation, Inc.–Claims and ChargesB-404887.2, B-404887.3, July 27, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶141 at 3. A reasonable basis for rescission exists when, for example, an agency determines that a solicitation does not accurately reflect its needs. Logistics Solutions Group, Inc.., B-294604.7, B-294604.8, July 28, 2005, 2005 CPD ¶ 141 at 3. Further, an agency may properly cancel a solicitation, regardless of when the information prompting the cancellation surfaces or should have been known, even if the solicitation is not canceled until after quotations have been submitted and evaluated, after a contract has been awarded or, as here, after a protest against the award has been filed. See Bluehorse, B-412494, B-412494.2, February 26, 2016, 2016 CPD ¶ 64 at 5.
In our view, the remedy here fits well within the broad discretion given to contracting agencies. As noted above, the agency determined that the terms of the tender submission requirements were vague and therefore the agency was unable to assess whether the quotes received met to his requirements. Specifically, the RFP sought the services of a Ph.D. level research specialist with, among other qualifications, training in the safe handling of human blood samples and experience in HIV-1 and HIV-2, to support an agency research program. Yet, the RFP did not require the submission of specific documents about the vendors’ proposed candidates, such as the submission of resumes, to assess whether the vendors’ candidates met the agency’s specific requirements. As a result, the agency concluded that the RFP as issued was flawed as it did not allow it to accurately determine whether vendor candidates could successfully meet the requirements.
Therefore, it was up to the agency to cancel the procurement because it feared that the procurement process had been compromised by errors inherent in the tender. Since nothing in Monbo’s protest demonstrates that the agency’s corrective action was unreasonable or reflected an abuse of authority, we reject Monbo’s challenge to the agency’s decision to terminate the award and to cancel the solicitation issued under the GSA timetable contract.
Next, Monbo challenges the agency’s issuance of a mission order for the research specialist requirement at Midnight Sun under an existing IDIQ contract vehicle.
With respect to protests against work orders issued under civilian agency IDIQ contracts, the GAO has jurisdiction to review protests against work orders with a value greater than $10 million. See 41 USC § 4106(f)(1)(B); Alliant Sols., LLC, B-415994, B-415994.2, May 14, 2018, 2018 CPD ¶ 173 at 4 n.8. Here, the agency states that the total estimated value of the task order is $336,230. Response to GAO request (November 15, 2022). Our office therefore has no jurisdiction over this issue because the estimated value of the work order is below the monetary threshold allowing GAO to hear protests related to work orders issued under agency contracts. calendar IDIQ. Under these circumstances, this matter is dismissed as we have no jurisdiction over this protest claim.
The protest is dismissed.
Edda Emmanuelli Perez