SSI highlights the important differences between procurements conducted under FAR Part 15 and FAR Part 16. Although agencies will often apply the procedures of FAR Part 15 procurements to task order competitions under FAR Part 16, this is not always the case; FAR Part 16 only requires agencies to provide awardees a fair opportunity to be considered for award; therefore, agencies can eschew some of the procedures of FAR Part 15. Thus, while the principles of fairness applicable to negotiated procurements also apply when the agency uses these procedures for a task order competition, an agency need not follow all the mechanical requirements of FAR Part 15.
In SSI, the protester contended, among other things, that in accordance with FAR 15.307(b), it should have been given the opportunity to submit a written Final Proposal Revision after entering discussions with the agency and submitting oral proposal revisions. Moreover, the protester argued, it was prejudiced by the fact that the agency accepted an additional submission from another offeror after discussions ended. The GAO pointed out that neither FAR 16.605 nor the solicitation nor the parties’ course of dealings required the agency to ask for and accept written final proposal revisions after conducting discussions. In addition, FAR 16.505, unlike FAR Part 15, does not require a common cutoff date for receipt of proposals, thus the agency’s acceptance of further submissions from one offeror was no basis for sustaining the protest. Finally, given that the agency provided the protester a full opportunity to revise its proposal orally and took into account the protester’s revisions in reevaluating the protester’s proposal, the GAO concluded that the protester was neither prejudiced nor treated unequally as a result of the agency’s decision not to accept written proposal revisions or establish a common cutoff date for discussions.