A federal court recently held that the National Park Service acted in “flagrant disregard” of a prior court’s finding that NPS had followed a “flawed and illegal” bidding process to award two concession contracts. The court reaffirmed the prior finding, noting that NPS’ explanation for its decision to proceed with an award of the contracts notwithstanding the prior court finding was “untenable.” In addition, the court found that the situation gave the court the ability to order the agency to award the two contracts to the plaintiff.
The case involved a challenge to NPS’ decision to award two concession contracts to preferred offerors for concession operations in Grand Teton National Park. The court held that, contrary to NPS’ conclusion, the preferred offerors had failed to submit responsive proposals and therefore lost their right to match the plaintiff’s best proposal. NPS nonetheless proceeded with its plan to award the contracts to the preferred offerors based on legal arguments the court found “unavailing,” “convoluted,” “making little sense,” “without merit” and “plainly wrong.”
NPS asserted that the preferred offerors should keep the two contracts notwithstanding the illegal awards. The court, however, found that the plaintiff had met the factors allowing the court to order the agency to award the contracts to the rightful party. Prior to making a final determination as to whether the court should direct the agency to award the contracts to the plaintiff, the court requested additional information from the parties as to the need to bring the preferred offerors into the case and the specific terms and conditions for new contracts with the plaintiff.