Solicitation Didn’t Expressly Prohibit Unpriced Subcontractors. Why Was the Protester’s Use of Unpriced Subcontractors Unacceptable?

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The agency rejected the protester’s proposal as unacceptable because it didn’t include required cost information for subcontractors. The protester argued that nothing in the solicitation prohibited it from proposing unpriced subcontractors. GAO noted that while the proposal did not explicitly prohibit unpriced subcontractors, it nonetheless required offerors to submit cost information for all subcontractors, which effectively precluded unpriced subcontractors.

Vysnova Partners, Inc., GAO B-420654.2, B-420654.3


GSA issued a solicitation seeking cybersecurity services to holders of the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services multiple award contract. The solicitation required offerors to provide certain cost information for the prime and proposed subcontractors.

Vysnova submitted an offer in response to the solicitation. But GSA found Vysnova’s proposal unacceptable. Vysnova had proposed “unpriced subcontractors,” who were not allocated a specific level of work. GSA determined that Vysnova had failed to provide the cost information for these subcontractors as required by the solicitation. Vysnova protested.


Vysnova argued that the solicitation did not expressly prohibit unprice subcontractors. GAO rejected this argument. While the solicitation did not expressly prohibit the use of unpriced subcontractors, it clearly required offerors to submit cost information for all subcontractors. That requirement effectively precluded an offeror from proposing unpriced subcontractors.


Vysnova argued that the agency should have sought clarifications regarding the unpriced subcontractors. GAO disagreed. Clarifications are appropriate for minor errors and cannot be used to cure material omissions. Here, to make its proposal acceptable, Vysnova would have had to make material revisions to its proposal beyond what are permitted under clarifications.

Vysnova is represented by Eric Valle, Katherine B. Burrows, and Isaias Alba of PilieroMazza PLLC. The agency is represented by James Braswell of the General Services Administration. GAO attorneys Mary G. Curcio and Jonathan L. Kang participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Vysnova Partners