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Anne Perry is a partner and former Practice Leader of the Government Contracts, Investigations and International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Accepting money from the Government, whether through a contract, grant, or other transaction, does not come for free. In the commercial world, companies typically engage in a cost/benefit analysis when they make major decisions, such as whether to enter a new line of business, extend their product line, open new facilities, or expand globally. To make these decisions, the company tries to understand not simply the available business opportunities, but also the obligations that are imposed and the risks that are inherent. This is equally, if not more, true when a commercial company decides to sell anything to the U.S. Government – whether as a prime contractor or subcontractor. The Federal Government is an extremely large consumer of goods and services, and so it is a marketplace that is hard to ignore. But, seller beware – because with the opportunities arising from this marketplace come obligations with which your company may not be able to comply. Moreover, while compliance may cost you more than you anticipate, noncompliance could destroy your business. So make sure that you look before you leap into the federal marketplace.
Continue Reading Look Before You Leap – Pitfalls and Trip Wires Inherent in Government Contracting

On November 13, 2013, GAO reaffirmed its view that normalization of costs is impermissible in acquisitions where offerors’ approaches are not required to be the same. In AXIS Management Group LLC, B-408575 (Nov. 13, 2013), the Department of the Interior’s (“the Agency”) decision to normalize offerors’ labor hours and labor mixes was found to be unreasonable because the Agency ignored the unique approach proposed by each of the offerors.  The acquisition sought laboratory operational support at the National Water Quality Laboratory (“NWQL”) using an indefinitely delivery, indefinite quantity contract.  Technical merit was identified as significantly more important that the total evaluated price.  Offerors’ price proposals were to consist of unit prices for two contract line items, one for front desk support and the other for information technology support, and to provide proposed “labor categories, number of hours and hourly rates for three CLINS: (1) laboratory support, (2) support services support, and (3) quality assurance labor categories,” and to ensure that they priced all of the task descriptions identified in the Solicitation.  Historical staffing levels, but not staffing estimated or annual labor hour requirements, were disclosed in the Solicitation.  The historical information identified staffing for only 12 of the 26 identified labor categories.
Continue Reading Equal Doesn’t Always Mean Fair