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Posted on Monday, November 19, 2018

Offerors Must Make Sure All Company “Identifiers” Match

Any contractor working its way through registering in SAM knows how many different ways the government identifies a contractor. There is a DUNS number, a CAGE Code as well as a company name, and perhaps a doing business as (DBA) name. When a company has divisions, those numbers can be different than the identifiers of the parent company. When submitting a proposal to the government, it’s important to make sure that all the offeror’s numbers match. Errors can cost a contractor the contract.

BDO USA, LLP (BDO) submitted a proposal for financial operations and systems support services under the GSA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Professional Services Schedule (PSS). According to the RFQ, the offeror had to submit a cover letter identifying the commercial and government entity (CAGE) code, GSA PSS contract number, and data universal numbering system (DUNS) number of the prime contractor. The contractor also had to submit a completed  Department of Defense Contract Security Classification Specification form (DD Form 254) showing that it had a minimum facilities clearance (FCL) at the secret or higher level.

In its cover letter, BDO identified CAGE code 6YTU0, GSA PSS contract number GS–00F–149CA, and DUNS number 047684840 but that was not completely correct. Its GSA PSS contract had a different CAGE code – and that CAGE Code was not active in SAM nor did it have an active Secret facility clearance.  When the agency declared BDO ineligible based on these inconsistencies, BDO protested to GAO.

BDO had what seemed like a good argument: the RFQ did not require that all these identifiers had to match up. But GAO concluded that the agency reasonably disqualified BDO. “Information readily available, such as CAGE codes and DUNS numbers, must reasonably establish that differently identified entities are in fact the same concern. CAGE codes are assigned to discrete business entities for a variety of purposes (e.g., facility clearances, pre-award surveys, and tracking the ownership of technical data) to dispositively establish the identity of a legal entity for contractual purposes.” The information “readily available to the agency did not affirmatively establish that the BDO entity holding the GSA PSS contract possessed a secret FCL. The record therefore supports the reasonableness of the agency’s decision to find BDO’s quotation ineligible for award because its quotation and subsequent clarifications failed to establish that it satisfied the RFQ’s requirements.”

BDO USA LLP, B-416504, Sept. 14, 2018.

In a previous blog, we described a contractor losing a contract because it did not pay attention to using the proper signature. Here, a contractor lost because it did not carefully check the identifiers the government asked for. They are good reminders that, although the technical and price proposals are critical to winning the work, seemingly minor mistakes can cost proposal writers the contract.

Berenzweig Leonard  is teaming up with Red Team Consulting for a monthly newsletter featuring upcoming contracts, key protest decisions, events, and more. This post was published in the November 2018 Monthly Insights newsletter. To sign up for Monthly Insights, please click here. 

Terry O’Connor is a Partner at Berenzweig Leonard. Terry and Stephanie Wilson  lead the firm’s Government Contracts practice. Terry can be reached at toconnor@berenzweiglaw.com.