A joint venture of two small businesses should have remained in a competition for a small NASA support services contract, the U.S. Government Accountability Office ruled in a May 29 decision upholding a protest by BGI-Fiore JV of Chandler, Arizona. 

“We recommend that the agency reinsert BGI-Fiore into the competition under this solicitation, and evaluate BGI-Fiore’s previously submitted proposal,” GAO wrote in the May 29 decision, which was published online. “We also recommend that BGI-Fiore be reimbursed its costs of filing and pursuing the protest.”

The joint venture comprises Banda Group International of Chandler and Fiore Industries of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The companies applied to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to have the joint venture recognized under the U.S. government’s 8(a) program, which provides federal assistance to so-called small and disadvantaged businesses. Their SBA application is pending.

GAO wrote that NASA inappropriately rejected BGI-Fiore’s proposal Feb. 6 when the agency determined the companies were ineligible to compete for the 8(a) set-aside contract at the Hampton, Virginia-based Langley Research Center because their 8(a) joint venture agreement had not yet been approved by SBA prior to submission of proposals. GAO, which consulted with SBA in its investigation, said BGI-Fiore’s joint venture application need only be approved by time of a contract award, and that the companies were therefore free to compete for the contract, in the meantime. 

The Facility Assurance, Inspections, Monitoring and Occupational Safety contract at NASA’s Langley Research Center is for “support services for quality and mission assurance, facility and construction inspection functions, occupational safety, and industrial hygiene,” according to the solicitation NASA posted online Nov. 13. Bids were due Jan. 28, and BGI-Fiore filed on time, GAO said. The contract was specifically set aside for 8(a)-designated small business. 

NASA had made no award as of June 6.