Does a “walkable 1/2 mile” extend to 0.6 miles?  Is a BBQ stand properly considered an “eating facility” – even if it does not have any place to sit?  How about a takeout place with only six tables?  A GSA contracting officer answered each of these questions affirmatively when selecting a proposal for a building lease in the Northern Mariana Islands.  The building was for the U.S. District Court and other related services – Probation, Marshalls Service and U.S. Attorney’s offices.  Think employees and visitors who will want a place nearby for lunch.  And, the Request for Lease Proposal (“RLP”) said that offerors had to propose  a location that was in the immediate vicinity of eating facilities “generally not exceeding a walkable 1/2 mile” – as determined by the contracting officer.

By using the odometer on his car and an internet map, the CO measured the eateries around the awardee’s location.  There was a BBQ stand – with no seating – within 1/2 mile, as well as a takeout place with approximately six tables.  Next, there was another eatery 0.6 miles away, presumably with tables.  The CO said that was good enough, but the protester disagreed, arguing that the BBQ and takeout places did not count – and 0.6 miles location did not comply with the RLP.

In Marianas Management Corporation, B-411593 (Sept. 3, 2015), GAO sided with the GSA.  GAO found that the RLP left it to the CO’s discretion to define what was a “generally walkable 1/2 mile” – and while the protester did not think that the takeout place counted, the protester failed to show the CO acted unreasonably.  A win for the BBQ stand – and EFC Services Corporation, who was selected for the lease.

A copy of GAO’s decision is available here.