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Failure to Investigate OCI Was Arbitrary and Capricious

The government's decision not to perform organizational conflicts of interest analysis in a reprocurement for information technology services was arbitrary and capricious, according to the Court of Federal Claims, because the Government Accountability Office's findings regarding an unequal access to information OCI warranted further analysis. The protester challenged the initial award of an information technology service management contract before the GAO, which sustained the protest. The GAO concluded the offerors did not have adequate information with regard to service desk user requirements to compete on an equal basis and the awardee was able to compete "on a materially different basis." Although it did not expressly label it as such, the GAO effectively found an unequal access to information OCI. The government adopted the GAO's recommendation to provide all offerors with the service desk user requirements and request revised proposals. The contracting officer, however, did not conduct further OCI analysis.

Procurement Integrity

The court found the decision not to perform additional analysis lacked a rational basis. A CO has ongoing responsibility to identify and evaluate OCIs to ensure the integrity of the procurement system. Faced with the issues identified by the GAO, a reasonable person with responsibility for procurement integrity would have conducted further evaluation to determine if any other OCIs existed. As a result, the protester was prejudiced because it was not assured of competing on equal footing. Injunctive relief was warranted because the protester succeeded on the merits; the protester would suffer irreparable harm for the government's failure to ensure a fair and competitive procurement; requiring the government to conduct further OCI analysis, consistent with the responsibilities set forth in FAR Subpart 9.5, would not create an undue hardship; and the public interest would be clearly served by maintaining the integrity of the procurement system. The government was enjoined from awarding the contract without additional OCI analysis, but the protester's request to preclude the awardee from competing in the reprocurement was denied. ( Jacobs Technology Inc. v. U.S., et al., FedCl, 55 CCF 79,640)




(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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