Our client was the incumbent contractor performing armed security guard services at various locations for the Bonneville Power Administration (“BPA”). When that contract neared the end of its term, BPA issued a new solicitation for the work. The Service Contract Act (“SCA”) applied to the work and BPA planned to award a time and materials contract for the services. During the course of the procurement, BPA issued several modifications to the solicitation and attempted on several occasions to respond to questions from offerors seeking clarification to BPA’s directions, which were at times both confusing and ambiguous. In one such ambiguous clarification, BPA arguably required the incumbent (our client) to account for incremental increases for pay rates based on successful performance at BPA. This interpretation meant that our client was not permitted to use the base SCA wage rates in pricing its proposal, which other offerers—those that weren’t the incumbent—were permitted to use.

As the result of this ambiguity, our client’s proposal was based on its current wage rates, rather than the lower SCA wage rates. Because of its higher proposed wage rates, as required by the ambiguous government clarification to the solicitation, our client’s proposed price was high and BPA selected a competitor for award of the contract.

We protested BPA’s award decision based on that ambiguity. We established that the ambiguity resulted in different pricing assumptions for the incumbent and other competitors, rendering the competition unfair. As a result, BPA cancelled the award and extended the period of performance for our client’s existing contract.