In February 2024, GAO continued its streak of taking a hard look at procurements conducted under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 8.4.  Subpart 8.4 allows the government to use “simplified” ordering procedures to obtain commercial supplies and services.  However, some agencies have apparently adopted the position that “anything goes” in these simplified procurements.  Not so!  Over the past year, GAO has issued a series of decisions emphasizing that, although this process is supposed to be simplified, it is not intended to be lawless.  (Check out our discussion of the Washington Business Dynamics, LLC, decision in December’s Sustain of the Month post.)  This welcome trend has continued into 2024, with GAO’s issuance of a sustain decision in LOGMET LLC, B-422200, Feb. 21, 2024. 

In LOGMET, the General Services Administration (GSA) sought to issue an order for organizational level aircraft maintenance services procured on behalf off the Marine Corps.  GSA conducted the procurement under FAR subpart 8.4 procedures and issued the solicitation to vendors holding federal supply schedule (FSS) contracts with special item number 488190, aircraft components, maintenance, repair services, extended warranties, and maintenance agreements.  The Solicitation required vendors to submit pricing schedules that included quoted labor categories from their underlying FSS contracts.  Vendors were also required to demonstrate that the labor categories they proposed corresponded with the solicitation’s requirements with respect to skills, qualifications, and experience.  To do so, vendors were required to prove a “crosswalk” between the labor categories in the solicitation and those on the vendor’s FSS contract. 

The three labor categories relevant here (maintenance admin specialist; tool room program coordinator; and advanced skills management fleet administrator) all required a minimum of five years of previous aviation maintenance experience, among other qualifications.    AVMAC proposed the following labor categories to satisfy the Solicitation’s identified needs:

Solicitation Labor Category / Years of ExperienceAVMAC’s Proposed Labor Category / Years of Experience
Maintenance admin specialist / 5 years of aviation maintenance experienceAircraft logs and records technician / 2 years of experience
Tool room program coordinator / 5 years of aviation maintenance experienceWarehouse manager / 4 years of experience
Advanced skills management (ASM) fleet administrator / 5 years of aviation maintenance experienceData manager / 3 years of experience

LOGMET protested that the labor categories required by the solicitation did not fall within the scope of AVMAC’s proposed FSS labor categories.  GAO agreed, noting that “[w]here an agency intends to order from an existing FSS contract, all goods or services quoted must be on the vendor’s schedule contract as a precondition to receiving the order.”  Here, each of the three labor categories noted above required fewer years of experience than the minimum of 5 years of aviation maintenance experience required by the solicitation. 

GAO recognized that FSS labor categories with a minimum years of experience requirement that is less than that required by the corresponding labor category in the solicitation can still be within the scope of the solicitation labor category.  However, quoting its decision in Async-Nu Microsystems, Inc., GAO noted that where, as here, the “FSS solicitation requires vendors to perform using personnel that meet certain minimum qualification requirements (such as, for example, years of experience), and requires vendors to map their FSS labor categories to those minimum requirements, the record must include some sort of affirmative showing that the vendor intends to meet the RFQ’s minimum requirements.” 

More concerning than the numerical years of experience was the fact that AVMAC’s descriptions of the data manager and warehouse manager positions required only “general experience” and did not specifically mention experience with aviation maintenance.  GAO found that the record contained no evidence that GSA had specifically considered these issues.  Noting that there was no contemporaneous documentation of GSA’s analysis of the deficiencies in AVMAC’s crosswalk, GAO rejected GSA’s reliance on “conclusory language from the evaluation documents,” concluding that the evaluation of AVMAC’s proposal was not reasonable.

            The LOGMET decision provides another helpful reminder that procurements conducted under FAR subpart 8.4 are still subject to the requirement that agencies perform reasonable evaluations that are consistent with the solicitation and sufficiently documented.  Moreover, companies proposing FSS labor categories should ensure that they demonstrate how their FSS labor categories meet the requirements for each labor category identified in the solicitation.

We would like to thank Cherie J. Owen, Consultant, for her contribution to this blog post.