ADR Successes - NAVSEA’S SEAPORT OMBUDSMAN

 
SeaPort - Lighthouse Symbol
 
 
In April 2002, the Naval Sea Systems Com (NAVSEA) instituted a Task and Delivery Order Ombudsman program in accordance with FAR 16.505(b)(5)[1], to address and resolve contractor complaints under the NAVSEA SeaPort contract.  The SeaPort contract is a large multiple award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ), under which NAVSEA acquires professional support services for various technical programs within the Command.  Individual task orders are competed and awarded for a program’s required services.
            
The goals and objectives, consistent with FAR 16.505(b)(5), are for the Ombudsman to review complaints from SeaPort contractors and ensure they are afforded a fair opportunity to be considered, consistent with the procedures in the contract.  The Ombudsman is a senior agency official who is independent of the contracting officer; he was delegated his authority as Ombudsman from  NAVSEA’s competition advocate. 
           
The SeaPort Ombudsman receives complaints from disappointed bidders that have competed for a particular task order.  NAVSEA implemented broad internal procedures that provided guidelines and criteria for Ombudsman to follow in receiving, analyzing, investigating and resolving complaints.  These procedures provide the Ombudsman broad discretion in handling each complaint, in terms of whether a written decision is issued or whether meetings should occur with the complainant and the contracting officer.
           
In resolving complaints, the Ombudsman has the broad discretion to act either as a mediator or a decision maker, recognizing, of course, that his/her recommendations are not binding on the either the Government or the contractor.  Both types of approaches have been utilized successfully since the program began.
           
Since the program began, the Ombudsman has received and resolved four written complaints from disappointed bidders on task orders issues under the SeaPort program.  In addition, the Ombudsman has addressed several informal questions and inquiries about task order awards that did not rise to the level of a formal complaint.  In most cases, the complaint was resolved based on the review of written responses from the bidder, the procuring contracting officer, and in one case from the awardee, as an interested party.  The last complaint was satisfactorily resolved with a form of mediation and a face-to-face meeting with the parties.  It is anticipated that the process will continue to be utilized by SeaPort contractors, who find it an effective way to voice and resolve issues that arise with a task order competition.

 
[1] Specifically, this provision requires that “the Ombudsman must review complaints from contractors and ensure they are afforded a fair opportunity to be considered, consistent with the procedures in the contract.  The Ombudsman must be a senior agency official who is independent of the contracting officer and may be the agency’s competition advocate.”
 
The DON ADR Program Can Help Your Command
The DON ADR Program has trained FAR 16.505 Ombudsman. 
Can it help your command too?