Protest Against Forest Service Use of Competitive Procurement Procedures

B-199654: Nov 24, 1980

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A firm protested the Forest Service's use of competitive procurement procedures under a request for proposals (RFP) for cadastral land surveying services. The protester contended that cadastral surveys, which are surveys relating to the boundaries and subdivisions of land, are by definition architectural and engineering services which must be procured in accordance with the Brooks Bill rather than by competitive RFP. GAO held that the language of the Brooks Bill and its legislative history indicate that the Bill's procedures apply whenever: (1) the controlling jurisdiction requires an architectural-engineering (A-E) firm to meet a particular degree of professional capability in order to perform the desired services; or (2) the services logically or justifiably may be performed by an otherwise professional A-E firm or its employees and are incidental to professional A-E services, which clearly must be procured by the Brooks Bill method. It is clear from the record that the Forest Service did not require that the cadastral land survey be performed by an A-E firm. Although the RFP required the contractor's land surveyors to obtain appropriate licenses and permits from the States in which work was to be performed, the RFP provisions did not require performance by an A-E firm since the land surveyor licensing requirements in the States are separate and distinct from the licensing requirements for architects and engineers. Moreover, GAO was advised by the Forest Service that the instant survey requirement was completely independent of any A-E project. Therefore, GAO held the instant survey was not considered an A-E service for the purpose of the Brooks Bill. Thus the Forest Service could properly procure the cadastral land survey under competitive statutes and regulations in lieu of the selection method prescribed in the Brooks Bill. The protest was denied.