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Requirement for Integrated and Operational System Was Rational

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of a pre-award bid protest because the Court of Federal Claims correctly concluded there was a rational basis for a solicitation requirement for an integrated management system that was currently fully operational within the government. The request for proposals for a financial, acquisition, and asset management system sought to implement the government's plan to integrate a number of systems into a single agency-wide system. The CFC found the protester did not meet its burden of demonstrating the requirement for the system to be integrated and currently fully operational within the government lacked a rational basis (53 CCF 79,103). On appeal, the protester argued the RFP unduly restricted competition, the justifications for the requirements lacked support in the record, and the requirements were pretextual and favored one specific system.

Prior Project Failed

However, the government had previously sought to integrate financial systems through commercial off-the-shelf software, but the project was a "complete failure" and the government abandoned its attempt after spending $52 million. The failure was primarily based on "the contractors' inability to provide functional integration among components." Thus, as the CFC found, it was logical the government "would want to ensure its success by seeking a fully integrated system, both on the basis of its own experiences and those of other agencies and departments," and under CFC precedent, the government's preference for a pre-integrated system was entitled to "great weight." Similarly, given the government's failure to build an operational system from the "ground up," the requirement for a currently fully operational system could not be considered unreasonable.

No Pretext

With respect to the requirement for the system to be currently operational within the federal government, the RFP's "process overview" explained the need to "utilize and reuse work already completed," project documentation expressed the government's intent to comply with Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130, and numerous other documents expressed the need for a system that complied with standards and requirements specific to the government. Therefore, the "within the federal government" requirement was apparent from, and supported by, the agency record. Finally, there was no merit to the protester's allegations of pretext. The Frequently Asked Questions for the RFP explicitly stated offerors were free to propose any software and solutions appropriate to meet the requirements and that corporate experience was not limited to previous experience with the acquiring agency. It also appeared there were at least three systems that were presently integrated and fully operational within the government. (Savantage Financial Services, Inc. v. U.S., CA-FC, 54 CCF 79,260)




(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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