On February 22, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Kingdomware Technologies v. United States. Kingdomware Technologies is a certified, service-disabled veteran owned small business, or SDVOSB--a special type of veteran-owned small business, or VOSB. In 2012, Kingdomware filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded a contract to a Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contractor who was not a VOSB. Kingdomware argued that the award violated 38 U.S.C. § 8127(d)’s “Rule of Two.” That provision directs that VA contracting officers, except under certain circumstances, “shall award contracts on the basis of competition restricted to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans if the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States.”
Although the GAO agreed with Kingdomware and recommended a re-bid, the VA declined to follow the GAO recommendation and Kingdomware sued the VA in the Court of Federal Claims. That Court ruled in favor of the VA and Kingdomware appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A divided panel of the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Court of Claims, concluding that Kingdomware’s interpretation of “shall award” failed to account for qualifying provisions elsewhere in the statute.
The question before the Supreme Court is whether the Federal Circuit erred by adopting a construction of § 8127(d)'s mandatory set-aside for VOSBs that arguably rendered the “Rule of Two” discretionary at the option of the VA.
To discuss the case, we have Michael Toth, who is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.