• Posts by Ross L. Crown

    Ross Crown focuses his practice on government contracts and commercial litigation. Ross serves clients throughout the western region, with a particular emphasis on New Mexico and Colorado. He is an accomplished writer and speaker on professional subjects and is active in his community.

The Government Accountability Office recently returned to the subject of the unavailability of key personnel listed in contract proposals. ASRC Federal Data Solutions, B-421008, December 2, 2022, 2022 CPD ¶ 294, is a bid protest where the awardee of the contract was found to have misrepresented its capacity to furnish a key person identified in its proposal. The GAO sustained the protest, determining that the key person had withdrawn her acceptance of a contingent offer of employment from the awardee, the agency relied on that misrepresentation, and the misrepresentation had a material effect on evaluation of the proposals.

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Bid protest determinations serve to resolve challenges to procurement decisions by government agencies. Beyond that purpose, these rulings can also offer valuable insights as to what factors determine whether or not a contract proposal is successful. A recent example of such a decision from the Government Accountability Office is Matter of Tech Marine Business, Inc., B-420872, 2022 CPD ¶ 260, October 14, 2022. The GAO sustained this protest because the agency failed to adequately explain why it did not consider the contractor’s transition plan to merit a strength finding.

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A contractor’s own terms and conditions infrequently appear in procurement contracts with the federal government. For the most part these contracts are “take it or leave it” propositions with the agency’s own terms and conditions defining the agreement of the parties. Recently, however in CSI Aviation, Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security, 31 F.4th 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2022), the U.S. Court of Appeals took the opportunity to address circumstances when a contractor’s standard terms and conditions may be incorporated by reference into a federal contract.

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What happens when a key person for a contractor resigns while a procurement is still pending? A recent protest decision by the Government Accountability Office addresses this question.

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The Contract Disputes Act allows contractors seeking payment of a claim arising from a contract with the federal government six years from the date it accrued to submit the claim to the contracting officer. Failure to do so will result in the claim being rejected as untimely.

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Technical discriminators, which distinguish one technical proposal from another, frequently determine contract awards in best value procurements conducted by the federal government. Bid protest decisions of the Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims commonly address those discriminators that agencies find significant in evaluating technical proposals.

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No question, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is giving rise to multitudes of delay claims (along with claims of other varieties) by contractors against the federal government.

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently denied a protest brought by a contractor who failed to submit an adequately written proposal for the award of a federal contract. This decision breaks no new ground legally but it serves as a timely reminder of how failure to identify the assumptions upon which a proposal is based will yield a disappointing result.

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On March 30, 2020, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum to procurement officials throughout the Department of Defense on managing the effects of the COVID-19 virus on defense contracts. This memorandum is authored by Kim Herrington, the Acting Principal Director, Defense Pricing and Contracting. Although the memorandum lacks detail, it should be viewed as an encouraging sign from the DoD that it recognizes its contractors are impacted by the virus and that they are entitled to seek relief.

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