Corrective Action Taken to Resolve Matter Concerning Awardee’s IDIQ Contract Did Not Impermissibly Permit Awardee to Revise Task Order Proposal; CenturyLink QGS, GAO B-418556.3

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Protest challenging the scope of corrective action is denied. The agency awarded a task order to the awardee. The protester alleged the awardee was ineligible because the awardee’s underlying IDIQ contract did not include all the services required by the task order solicitation. The agency took corrective action to confirm that the awardee’s IDIQ’s included all the required services. The protester challenged the corrective action, alleging that the agency was effectively allowing the awardee to revise its task order proposal without giving other offerors a similar opportunity. GAO, however, found that the corrective action did not allow the awardee to revise its task order proposal. Rather, the corrective merely sought to confirm the services on the awardee’s IDIQ contract. The corrective action concerned a matter related to the administration of the IDIQ contract, not the task order competition.

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a request for task order proposals to holders of GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solution IDIQ contract. The solicitation sought various telephone support services. The VA awarded the task order to Manhattan Telecommunications, Inc. (MelTel).

An unsuccessful offeror, CenturyLink QGS, protested the award to MelTel. CenturyLink noted that the underlying IDIQ contract provided that a holder of the IDIQ contract may only compete for a task order if (1) it has all of the agency-required services included in its IDIQ contract, or (2) at the time of proposal submission, submits a modification to GSA adding the missing services to its IDIQ contract. CenturyLink contended that MelTel was ineligible for award because it did not have all the required services listed in its IDIQ contract.

GAO conducted an outcome prediction teleconference and told the parties that it was likely to sustain the protest because MelTel did not have the necessary modifications to its IDIQ contract. The VA took corrective action to confirm whether MelTel’s IDIQ contract included all the task order solicitation’s requirements.

CenturyLink then filed a protest challenging the corrective action. CenturyLink alleged that the VA’s corrective action would result in disparate treatment of offerors. By continuing to consider MelTel’s proposal, CenturyLink contended, the VA was effectively allowing MelTel to revise its task order proposal to belatedly meet the solicitation’s requirements without giving other firms the same opportunity.

But GAO did not believe the corrective action resulted in disparate treatment because the VA was not actually allowing MelTel to revise its proposal. Rather, the VA’s corrective action merely sought to confirm whether MelTel had all of the required services included and price on its IDIQ contract. The proposed action did not allow for revisions to MelTel’s task order proposal.

GAO noted that MelTel had submitted the requests to modify its IDIQ contract after task order proposals were due. GAO reasoned, however, that this error did not concern competition for the task order; instead, it concerned the administration of the IDIQ contract. Modification of the underlying IDIQ contract did not otherwise affect the task order competition.

Indeed, GAO noted, MelTel could not have gained a competitive advantage in delaying the submission of the IDIQ contract modifications. CenturyLink would not have been able to review MelTel’s pricing or adjust its own pricing in response. The only harm would have been to the agency or to MelTel.

CenturyLink is represented by Shelly L. Ewald and Emily C. Brown or Watt Tieder Hoffar & Fitzgerald LLP. The agency is represented by Frank V. DiNicola, Peetr Kozlowski, and Christopher Tiroff of the Department of Veterans Affairs. GAO attorneys Michael P. Grogan and Edward Goldstein participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - CenturyLink QGS