Federal agencies have long been afforded wide discretion in defining solicitation requirements to meet their contracting needs. But are a solicitation’s requirements acceptable even where they’re likely to conflict with local zoning codes? What about where the solicitation documents conflict with one another on whether certain requirements are considered “requirements” at all? And finally, is an LPTA procurement acceptable where such conflicts have undoubtedly led to price uncertainty among the bidders?
GAO says, “yes” to all of these, so long as the requirements meet the agency’s needs.
In Flaherty Family Trust, B-414563.3 (Aug. 16, 2018), GSA issued an RLP seeking to lease a “professional” office space location for the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection port in Savannah, Georgia. GSA anticipated award to the lowest-price technically-acceptable offeror. The main RLP contained general internal space qualifications. But a separate “Agency Special Requirements” document provided specialized usage and internal space specifications that were inconsistent with the main solicitation. The RLP also required 44 government parking spaces with an additional 96 public-parking spaces within a quarter mile. But these parking specifications did not comply with local county zoning codes for majority of potential office locations.