Court yanks award to disabled workers who clearly couldn’t do the work.

In an example of good intentions over common sense, the Army pulled a particularly hazardous, physical contract from an incumbent contractor, Systems Application & Technologies, Inc. (Sa-Tech), and gave it instead to a company with zero experience but promising to employ a workforce of 60% severely disabled workers who obviously could not do the job.

Sa-Tech filed a bid protest and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims sustained the protest and common sense.

Incredibly, the Army had issued an award for the operation and maintenance of its multipurpose ranges and facilities services at the Yakima Training Center to Skookum Educational Programs, on its inexperienced promise that it would use severely disabled workers for the project.  This promise, according to the Army, gave Skookum sole source status, resulting in their ousting of the incumbent.

According to the Army, Skookum would employ 60% severely disabled workers on the job even though:

  • The site was in a remote desert area.
  • There was no public transportation.
  • The nearest hospital was 30 miles away.
  • All employees needed to be able to drive, lift up to 100 pounds, engage in strenuous physical exertion during stressful conditions, and be available 24 hours per day.
  • The work was particularly hazardous, involving encounters with live explosives and the cleanup and disposal of hazardous and toxic waste.
  • There was a dearth of severely disabled individuals within commuting distances of the ranges.

The Court held that it was arbitrary and capricious for the Army to designate this project as suitable for inclusion on the government’s AbilityOne sole source Procurement List reserved for the severely disabled under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act (41 US.C. secs. 8501-506).  Of course it was.  Sa-Tech won its bid protest.

The case is Systems Application & Technologies, Inc. v. United States and Skookum Educational Programs, 2012 U.S. Claims LEXIS 1574 (November 27, 2012).

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