JACKSON, Wyo. - A Jackson guiding service believes the National Park Service made a mistake so big, its president took the agency to federal court.
Eco Tours Adventures bid on a "concession business opportunity for guided ski touring services within Grand Teton National Park" in early 2013.
Taylor Philips, the president of the company, said he was told the proposal he submitted was the best. The incumbent guiding services and others also submitted proposals for the contracts. The incumbents are considered preferred offerers if they submit a responsive proposal, containing required information. A preferred offerer then has the opportunity to match the best contract. Phillips said the incumbents should never have had the opportunity to match his.
"The proposal that they first submitted was non-responsive," said Phillips. "There was financial information that was omitted."
Phillips decided to take further action.
"I crossed my T's, I dotted my I's, but they didn't," said Phillips. "Why did they get a second go at it? So, I took this to the court of federal claims in Washington, D.C."
There, a federal judge ruled that the NPS acted "arbitrarily and capriciously," also stating that allowing the incumbents to match the better terms "breached the implied contract for bids to be fairly and honestly considered."
Phillips said thanks to a loophole the federal judge doesn't have the authority to force the National Park Service to alter the decision.
"The only thing that the judge can force the National Park Service to do is to pay me my proposal preparation cost and all attorney fees," said Phillips.
Last week, Phillips received a joint stipulation stating his company would be awarded monetary damages of $36,250 from the National Park Service.
"I don't want their money, that's taxpayer money," said Phillips. "I want to provide these services in Grand Teton National Park."
Phillips said all indications point the the NPS giving the contracts to the incumbents or opening up the bidding again, spending more taxpayer money. Phillips said both are unsettling.
"What's really challenging for me is that the better elements of my proposal, of why my proposals won, is now public information," said Phillips. "So, if they start this process over again, the incumbents and others will have that information of why my proposal won."
The National Park Service said because of ongoing litigation, it is not known what will happen next.