Offit Kurman Successfully Defends Loch Harbour in Contentious VA Case
Court Sides with New Winner of Lucrative Center for Verification and Evaluation Contract
Washington, D.C. | April 15, 2015 Loch Harbour Group Inc. will keep its contract as new manager of the Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran-owned small businesses verification program, the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled last month. In a decision filed on March 26th, the Court sided with the Alexandria, Virginia-based consulting firm against rival and former VA contract holder Monterey Consultants Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, finding that Monterey had a conflict of interest with the agency.
Offit Kurman government contracts attorney Offit Kurman served as counsel for Loch Harbour throughout the proceedings. The dispute arose late last year, when the VA issued two solicitations for service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses to support its Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and its Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). Monterey, which held a prior blanket purchase agreement (BPA) with the VA, was initially selected and awarded a $39.9 million contract to support CVE and a $41.6 million contract to support OSDBU. Soon thereafter, Offit Kurman filed protests on behalf of Loch Harbour and GCC Technologies in Federal Court alleging that Monterey’s other contracts with the VA had created a conflict of interest: because Monterey had access to government requirements and related documents before the solicitation was made public, the company had an unfair competitive advantage. In response, the VA agreed and rescinded its contracts with Monterey, awarding the contracts to Loch Harbour and GCC instead. Monterey then filed lawsuits in the Court protesting the VA’s decision to rescind the two contracts.
The company’s action also prompted the agency to open its own protest with the SBA, questioning whether Loch Harbour was, in fact, too large to be qualify as a small business. This development, which Offit Kurman attorney called “a terrible tactical move,” quickly ended upon the SBA’s denial of the protest. The case wrapped up conclusively last month. In its final decision on the Loch Harbour case, the Court wrote: We find that contracting officer’s decision to rescind the award to Monterey was rational and supported by the record. The CO correctly identified a potential [conflict of interest] on the part of plaintiff as the incumbent contractor and a bidder for the follow-on procurement. The CO further found that plaintiff had no effective, implemented risk mitigation plan, leading him to conclude that Monterey should have not have been awarded the contract. As a result of this decision, Monterey dropped the second protest against the award to GCC. “I know I speak for my clients when I say we are satisfied with this outcome,” said Offit Kurman attorney. “Fair play and cooler heads prevailed in the end. This is a victory for us, the VA, and ultimately the entire Veteran business owner community.” Offit Kurman attorney, a Veteran himself, has served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as advisor to Joint Special Operations Task Forces, and has an extensive background in Army Special Operations. At Offit Kurman, he uses these skills and experience to advise veteran business owners and government contractors. His legal practice encompasses topics such as contracting, litigation, bid protests, procurement law, DCAA audits, and False Claims Act investigations. He is also the founder and host of Objective Rally Point (ORP), a monthly networking event for Veterans in the D.C. metro area.
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