Govt. Project Permitted To Favor Small Biz Over Women-Only Biz

Friday, November 02, 2018 6:43 am
November 2018 - Volume 40 Number 11

Denied: Set Aside

Matter of: EDWOSB Transformer Services, LLC, 2018 U.S. Comp. Gen. B-416683 Lexis 336 (October 15, 2018)

A bidder unsuccessfully challenged a government agency for failing to set aside a contract for a women-owned small business (WOSB) or sole-source award.

On July 5, 2018, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued an invitation for bids for electrical substation construction in Ault, Colorado. The solicitation was set aside for small business concerns. EDWOSB Transformer Services, LLC (Transformer), an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business, submitted a timely bid to the DOE. Transformer’s bid was the fourth-lowest priced of the five bids received.

On July 25, Transformer requested that the DOE award the contract on a sole-source basis pursuant to the WOSB program. Instead, the DOE stuck to its pre-procurement market research determination that there was no basis to set aside the project for small businesses in any of these four specialized programs: WOSB, service-disabled veteran-owned (SDVOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), or Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) business development (8(a) BD).

On August 13, before the August 14 bid deadline, Transformer protested the bid arguing that the DOE failed to “reasonably consider either a set-aside for WOSB concerns or a sole-source award.” The Comptroller General denied the protest.

Rule of Two for small biz set-asides

As required by Federal Acquisition Regulation (F.A.R.) §19.501(c), “agencies must review acquisitions and conduct market research[..]