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Comptroller General of the United States United States Government Accountability Office Washington, DC 20548 Decision Matter of: File: Date: World Communications Center, Inc.--Costs B-310398.4 January 16, 2008 Michael J. Murphy, Esq., Murphy Law Firm, P.A., for the protester. James Hicks, Esq., and Sheryl Butler Jamison, Esq., Department of Justice, for the agency. Jonathan L. Kang, Esq., and Ralph O. White, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decis
    Comptroller General   United States Government Accountability Office Washington, DC 20548of the United States Decision Matter of: World Communications Center, Inc.--Costs File: B-310398.4 Date: January 16, 2008Michael J. Murphy, Esq., Murphy Law Firm, P.A., for the protester. James Hicks, Esq., and Sheryl Butler Jamison, Esq., Department of Justice, for theagency. Jonathan L. Kang, Esq., and Ralph O. White, Esq., Office of the General Counsel,GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision. DIGEST GAO recommends that agency reimburse protester’s costs of filing and pursuingearlier protests where agency does not contest the protester’s request, and where therecord shows that the agency did not take prompt corrective action in the face of aclearly meritorious protest. DECISION World Communications Center, Inc. (WCC) requests that our Office recommend thatit be reimbursed the costs of filing and pursuing its protests of the award of a sole-source contract to NAL Research Corporation for satellite trackers under solicitationSTTS-1168, issued by the Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).We recommend that the DEA reimburse WCC its reasonable costs of filing and pursuing its protests.In its earlier protests, B-310398 and B-310398.2, WCC argued that the DEA conductedan improper sole-source procurement, and wrongly denied WCC an opportunity tocompete for the solicitation requirements by refusing to test its satellite trackers forcompatibility with the DEA’s tracking system. The agency produced a reportresponding to the protest allegations, and requested that our Office either deny the protests or dismiss them based on the agency’s argument that WCC was not aninterested party. Our Office convened a conference call during which the GAOattorney assigned to the protest identified concerns regarding the agency’s rationalefor the sole-source award, and indicated that the record as produced by the agencydid not support the reasonableness of the sole-source award. The GAO attorney also  requested additional information from the DEA to supplement its report.Subsequently, however, the DEA advised our Office that it would take correctiveaction by terminating the award to NAL and canceling the solicitation. Because theagency’s corrective action rendered the protest academic, we dismissed the protestson November 30, 2007.Where an agency takes corrective action in response to a protest, our Office mayrecommend that a protester be reimbursed the costs of filing and pursuing that protest. Bid Protest Regulations, 4 C.F.R. § 21.8(e) (2007). Such recommendationsare generally based upon a concern that the agency has taken longer than necessaryto initiate corrective action in the face of a clearly meritorious protest, therebycausing the protester to expend unnecessary time and resources to make further useof the protest process in order to obtain relief. See, e.g., AAR Aircraft Servs.-Costs,B-291670.6, May 12, 2003, 2003 CPD ¶ 100 at 5. A protest is clearly meritorious whena reasonable agency inquiry into the protest allegations would show facts disclosingthe absence of a defensible legal position. The Real Estate Ctr.-Costs, B-274081.7,Mar. 30, 1998, 98-1 CPD ¶ 105 at 3.Here, the DEA states that it “does not contest [WCC’s] request for reimbursement.” 1  Letter from DEA to GAO, Dec. 18, 2007, at 1. In the absence of any evidence to showthat the DEA’s sole-source award determination was reasonable, and in view of theagency’s decision not to contest the request for reimbursement, we conclude that the protest was clearly meritorious. We also conclude that the DEA did not take promptcorrective action, as it did not terminate the award to NAL and cancel thesolicitation until after the agency had produced its report on the protest, the protester had filed its comments on the report, and the GAO attorney assigned to the protest had requested additional information to supplement the record.We recommend that the agency reimburse WCC its costs of filing and pursuing its protests.Gary L. KepplingerGeneral Counsel 1 The agency also stated in its letter that it “does reserve the right to negotiate thefinal amount of costs after the Protester submits an itemized cost claim.” Letterfrom DEA to GAO, Dec. 18, 2007, at 1. Page 2 B-310398.4
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