On Friday, GAO issued a short decision in Goldbelt Glacier Health Services, LLC that merits a brief post. As readers of this blog likely know, FASA, as amended by the 2012 NDAA, authorizes bid protests exclusively at GAO for a task “order valued in excess of $10,000,000.” The Goldbelt Glacier protest involved “a task order for psychological health services,” and the prevailing offeror proposed $9.6 million for three fixed-price CLINs and one cost-type (with a hard ceiling) CLIN. The protester/incumbent proposed a $11.4 million price and argued that the work “cannot be performed for an amount less than $10 million” and asked GAO to invoke its jurisdiction because “as properly issued to Glacier, the order would have a value in excess of $10 million.”
GAO’s decision applied a bright-line rule and denied the protest. GAO explained that when “an order has in fact been issued by the government, we view the jurisdictional limit to turn on the value of the disputed order, which is reflected in the terms of the order itself.” As a result, when a task order’s value is close to the jurisdictional line, offerors will know that a proposal with a price below $10 million could not only win the order but help the agency avoid a protest (and the related delay). Similarly, source selection officials will understand that, in a close trade-off decision, the lower-price (possibly lower rated) solution will also provide the incentive of eliminating protest risk.