The Federal Government is required to notify potential bidders of its procurement activities, such as solicitations and sole source awards. In general, this notice is done through the posting on the Federal Government’s official governmentwide point of entry (GPE) – the beta.SAM.gov website. A bidder’s failure to monitor beta.SAM.gov can result in the bidder missing procurement opportunities or not learning of proposed sole source awards. This is what happened recently to a bidder who was monitoring a different government website. Prudential Protective Services, LLC, B-418869, 2020 WL 4746590 (Aug. 13, 2020).
In the Prudential Protective Services case, the Census Bureau, after taking corrective action in response to an earlier protest, made an award of a sole source task order under a Federal Supply Schedule contract. The Census Bureau published a notice of the sole source award on the beta.SAM.gov website. The protester, however, had been monitoring GSA’s e-Buy website not beta.SAM.gov because, according to the protester, all previous notices related to the procurement had been posted there. As a result, the protester did not see the notice on beta.SAM.gov in a timely manner and did not file its protest until 14 days after the notice was posted.
The Census Bureau requested that GAO dismiss the protest as untimely as it was not filed within 10 days of the beta.SAM.gov posting as required by GAO’s bid protest regulations. The protester, on the other hand, argued that its protest was timely because the agency was required to post the notice to the website of the ordering activity as well as beta.SAM.gov under FAR 8.405-6(a)(2), and posting the notice only to beta.SAM.gov did not put the protester on constructive notice of the award. FAR 8.405-6(a)(2) requires that, within 14 days of placing an FSS order supported by a limited sources justification, such as a sole source award, the ordering activity has to post the notice on the GPE and the website of the ordering activity agency.
The problem with the protester’s argument was that the GSA e-Buy website was not the agency’s website. GSA e-Buy is GSA’s electronic request for quotation system and is used to facilitate supply schedule purchases. GSA e-Buy, however, is not the Census Bureau’s website, and GAO rejected the protester’s contention that using the GSA e-Buy portal in the past transformed the GSA e-Buy portal into the ordering activity’s website. Therefore, the Census Bureau had no obligation to post the notice on the GSA e-Buy website.
Some federal agencies and ordering activities maintain their own websites to post information about solicitations and awards. While bidders certainly should monitor those websites to see if there are procurement opportunities of interest, they should not forget to monitor beta.SAM.gov. Failure to monitor beta.SAM.gov can potentially lead to missed opportunities.