The Government Accountability Office has dismissed a protest issued by Interoperability Clearinghouse, of Alexandria, Virginia, that claimed the award of a sole-source Department of Defense cloud support contract contained “impermissible organizational conflict of interest that renders it ineligible for award.”

The nearly $7 million contract was awarded to Eagle Harbor Solutions in January 2018 to support the DoD’s Cloud Executive Steering Group, tasked with developing a strategy for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud, a contract that could be worth billions over the next decade.

In a decision issued March 12, 2018, GAO dismissed Interoperability Clearinghouse’s February 2018 protest of the award due to the fact that the protestor was a not-for-profit entity and did not qualify as an “interested party” in the award.

“Under the bid protest provisions of the competition in Contracting Act of 1984, only an interested party may protest a federal procurement. That is, a protester must be an actual or prospective bidder or offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or the failure to award a contract,” the GAO decision said.

The award was offered under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program, which offers sole-source contracts to firms that are majority-owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Interoperability Clearinghouse is not an 8(a) firm, and acknowledged in the protest that it was not challenging the DoD’s choice to offer the contract through that program.

“Notwithstanding the protester’s concessions that it is not eligible to participate in the 8(a) program and that it is not challenging the propriety of the inclusion of the requirement in the 8(a) program, IC contends that it is nevertheless an interested party to protest the award because if the awardee is found to be ineligible for award there is a likelihood that the requirement would be removed from the 8(a) program,” the GAO decision said, adding that IC’s 8(a) concessions weakened their argument too much to warrant pursuit of a protest.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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