May 6, 2015

By Wojciech Z. Kornacki, Esq.

In Caddell Construction Co., LLC v. United States, Nos. 15-135C, 15-136C, April 10, 2015, Caddell Construction Co., LLC filed the protest action alleging that the government violated the Competition in Contracting Act (“CICA”). The CICA prohibits the government from awarding contracts during the pendency of a GAO protest unless certain requirements are met. The company alleged that after it filed its GAO protests, the government acknowledged that the stay was in place, but continued with solicitation otherwise.

The U. S. Department of Justice moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction alleging that no contract has been awarded. The contracting officer submitted the declaration to that effect. Senior Judge Merow began his analysis by examining the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims:

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1491(b)(1), the Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction: to render judgment on an action by an interested party objecting to a solicitation by a Federal agency for bids or proposals for a proposed contract or to a proposed award or the award of a contract or any alleged violation of statute or regulation in connection with a procurement or a proposed procurement.

Senior judge Merow recognized that CICA states that “a contract may not be awarded” while a GAO protest is pending. 31 U.S.C. § 3553(c)(1). The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has held before that in order for any contract to be deemed awarded, the contracting officer must have signed and mailed the award letter. Stebel v. United States, 108 Ct. Cl. 35, 44 (1947). After reviewing all the evidence, senior judge Merow observed that the company did not allege that either the letter has been delivered or an award letter issued. Instead, the company focused its argument on the evidence showing that the government continued its evaluation process. However, senior judge Merow concluded, the continued evaluation of proposals is not the same as awarding a contract. Based on that, the court had no subject matter jurisdiction, and granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case.

Centre Law and Consulting LLC (WOSB) offers a broad range of cost effective legal solutions for your government procurement needs. If you are looking for more information or have questions contact us here, or call at 703-288-2800.

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