GSA Reasonably Evaluated Awardee’s Ability to Comply with Zoning Law; Huffman Building P, LLC, GAO B-418752

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Protest challenging agency’s price evaluation and responsibility determination is denied. GSA awarded a lease contract. The protester alleged that GSA failed to consider relocation costs when evaluating the price of the awardee’s lease. The solicitation, however, only required GSA to consider relocation costs “if applicable.” GSA reasonably determined that relocation costs were not applicable under the circumstances. The protester also alleged that the contracting officer had failed to properly assess the awardee’s ability to comply with local zoning laws. But GAO found that the contracting officer considered the available information on zoning and reasonably concluded the awardee could comply with local law.

GSA issued a solicitation seeking to lease warehouse space in Anchorage, Alaska. GSA awarded the contract to Winco Anchorage Investors I, LP. The incumbent, Huffman Building P, LLC, protested challenging GSA’s price evaluation and responsibility determination.

Huffman argued that GSA failed consider relocation costs when evaluating price, which resulted in a lower price to the awardee. Huffman contended that the award to Winco would result in higher relocation expenses because the government would have to move from Huffman’s building to Winco’s.

But GAO noted that the solicitation only required GSA to consider relocation costs “if applicable.” Here, the contracting officer reasonably determined that relocation costs were not applicable. First, if GSA had considered relocation costs when evaluating price, the consideration would have applied to both Huffman and Winco because Huffman’s location still required moving and storage of property for tenant improvements. Second, GAO noted, the customer agency, not GSA, was responsible for separately contracting for relocation.

Huffman also challenged the agency’s responsibility determination, alleging that contracting officer had failed to consider information regarding Winco’s ability to comply with local zoning laws. Huffman contended the zoning for Winco’s proposed property did not allow for warehouse use.

Generally, zoning is considered to be a matter concerning an offeror’s responsibility. GAO does not typically hear protests challenging an agency’s affirmative responsibility determination. But GAO will consider a matter concerning responsibility where there are serious concerns that a contracting officer failed to consider available relevant information.

Here, the record showed the contracting officer considered numerous sources of information—including a market survey and zoning information submitted with the proposal—concerning Winco’s ability to comply with zoning laws. Huffman had not identified any specific information the contracting officer failed to consider. Basically, Huffman argued that the contracting should have further scrutinized Winco’s ability to comply with zoning ordinances. But Huffman’s disagreement with the agency’s conclusion did not demonstrate that the agency failed to consider the available relevant information.

Huffman is represented by Rebecca E. Lipson and Donald W. McClintock of Ashburn & Mason. The intervenor, Winco, is represented by Michael Jungreis of Reeves Amodio, LLC. The agency is represented by M. Leah Wright of the General Services Administration. GAO attorneys Katherine I. Riback and Evan C. Williams participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Huffman Building P, LLC