The Government Accountability Office ruled on Dec. 3 that Coast-to-Coast Computer Product’s protest didn’t have merit. The California-based company was one of six unsuccessful vendors to file a bid protest with GAO when GSA announced awards to 21 companies in August.
But with GAO’s decision, GSA can reopen OS3 for agencies to buy from.
“In this critical time of reduced budgets, GSA is working diligently on strategic initiatives to include FSSI, the Common Acquisition Platform (CAP), and category management to leverage data, dollars, and good business sense in helping the government buy smarter to meet its goals,” said Tom Sharpe, commission of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service in a statement. “The evolution of the GSA Office Supplies FSSI solution is a great example of how the government can improve on an already great program with each iteration, increasing the savings to taxpayers through lessons learned and best practices. OS3 will help government save money while at the same time ensuring that we are maximizing small business opportunities.”
Rick Vogel, government sales manager for Coast to Coast Computer Products, said in an email to Federal News Radio they were disappointed with GAO’s decision.
“Our protest was denied on the grounds that GSA told us they were going to violate their own procedures for making a best value decision in the body of the solicitation. Hence, it has been permitted by GAO,” Vogel said. “Had we protested the GSA’s use of go/no go as a methodology for determination of best value before the close of the solicitation, it may have been upheld. The fact remains that GSA did not follow their own published procedures for making a best value selection, and that the award was made on a lowest-price, technically acceptable (LPTA) basis after certain go/no go criteria had been met. This method did not take actual value into consideration. It merely established a set of minimum requirements, and gave preference to socio-economic status, and lowest price technically acceptable.”
Coast to Coast isn’t alone in its disappointment with GAO’s decision to deny or dismiss all six protests.
Kevin Paul, president of KPaul, a service disabled veteran-owned small business and one of the lead protestors of OS3 over the last year, said in an email to Federal News Radio that the fact GSA awarded only one contract to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business is disheartening.
“This is especially upsetting as the Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the biggest buyers of the OS3 and they have very few veteran-owned companies to buy from. In addition, the VA pays a fee to use the OS3 when they could create their own acquisition strategy with no fee and include a wider range of VOSBs,” Paul said. “We will reach out to the VA and encourage them to refrain from making the OS3 mandatory as it impedes new VOSBs from entering the market and runs counter to their mission. We know without a doubt that strategic sourcing is negatively affecting small, service-disabled veteran- and veteran- owned businesses and will ultimately cost the taxpayers as well. The OS2/OS3 only included one service disabled veteran owned small businesses out of the over 100 that are on Schedule 75. The VA spends over $500 million a year on vet programs, particularly those that create jobs and yet this initiative is costing hundreds of vets their livelihood. It’s a shame that vets work to get certified only to be told the VA can’t buy from them due to strategic sourcing. Our fight isn’t over as we are exploring other avenues to help end these harmful acquisition vehicles.”
Despite the disappointment of unsuccessful bidders, GSA says all socio-economic categories of small firms will benefit from OS3.
The difference between GSA and Paul’s totals for SDVOSB is based on the different CLINS.
Paul is referring to the awards under CLIN 1, the largest category with 13 vendors for general offices supplies.
GSA awarded only one contract to a SDVOSB under CLIN 1, but three under CLIN 3 for toner or ink cartridges.
The agency says OS3 is expected to save more than $90 million a year through lower prices under strategic sourcing initiative.
“GSA is currently working with OS3 vendors to upload their contract items onto GSAAdvantage and will notify agencies when they are available,” the agency said in a release. “In the interim, agencies are instructed to contact the OS3 vendors directly in order to place orders.”
Through two quarters of fiscal 2014, GSA says agencies spent $90 million through the office supplies contract and saved more than $20 million.