CMS Contract Mgmt. Servs. v. United States, No. 13-5093 (Fed. Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
The Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301, states that an executive agency must use: “a procurement contract . . . when . . . the principal purpose … is to acquire … property or services for the direct benefit or use” of the government and must adhere to the Competition in Contracting Act and the Federal Acquisition Regulation However, an “agency shall use a cooperative agreement . . . when . . . the principal purpose … is to transfer a thing of value … to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation … instead of acquiring . . . property or service” and can avoid procurement laws. Under Section 8 of the Housing Act, HUD provides rental assistance, including entering Housing Assistance Program (HAP) contracts and paying subsidies directly to private landlords. A 1974 amendment gave HUD the option of entering an Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) with a Public Housing Agency (PHA), which would enter into HAP contracts with owners and pay subsidies with HUD funds. In 1983, HUD’s authority was amended. HUD could administer existing HAP contracts, and enter into new HAP contracts for existing Section 8 dwellings by engaging a PHA if possible, 42 U.S.C. 1437f(b)(1). Later, HUD began outsourcing services and initiated a competition to award a performance-based ACC to a PHA in each state, with the PHA to assume “all contractual rights and responsibilities of HUD.” After making an award, HUD chose to re-compete, seeking greater savings, expressly referring to “cooperative agreements,” outside the scope of procurement law. The Government Accountability Office agreed with protestors that the awards were procurement contracts. HUD disregarded that recommendation. The Claims Court denied a request to set aside the award. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the awards are procurement contracts, not cooperative agreements.