[Federal Register: June 15, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 114)]
[Page 32030-32031]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Arbitration Panel Decision Under the Randolph-Sheppard Act

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of arbitration panel decision under the Randolph-
Sheppard Act.


SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that on May 21, 1998, an arbitration 
panel rendered a decision in the matter of Louisiana Department of 
Social Services, Rehabilitation Services v. U.S. Department of Defense, 
Department of the Air Force (Case No. R-S/97-3. This panel was convened 
by the U. S. Department of Education pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 107d-1(b), 
upon receipt of a complaint filed by petitioner, Louisiana Department 
of Social Services, Rehabilitation Services.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: A copy of the full text of the arbitration 
panel decision may be obtained from George F. Arsnow, U.S. Department 
of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3230, Mary E. Switzer 
Building, Washington D.C. 20202-2738. Telephone: (202) 205-9317. 
Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-8298.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed in the preceding 

Electronic Access to This Document

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to the Randolph-Sheppard Act (20 
U.S.C. 107d-2(c)), the Secretary publishes in the Federal Register a 
synopsis of each arbitration panel decision affecting the 
administration of vending facilities on Federal and other property.


    This dispute concerns the alleged failure of the United States 
Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force (Air Force) to renew 
an expiring food service contract with the Louisiana Department of 
Social Services, Rehabilitation Services, the State licensing agency 
    The Air Force operates Barksdale Air Force Base (Barksdale) in 
Louisiana. On March 29, 1994, the Air Force awarded a food service 
attendant services contract to the SLA. The contract was awarded on a 
non-competitive basis pursuant to the Randolph-Sheppard Act (20 U.S.C. 
107 et seq.) The contract was for a six-month period with two one-year 
options. A blind licensee was chosen to manage the facility.
    By memorandum dated July 8, 1996 the Air Force proposed ``to offer 
the reprocurement solicitation'' for the food service attendant 
services contract to the SLA as a non-competitive acquisition. The 
period for this reprocurement was from October 1, 1996 through 
September 30, 1997 with four one-year options. However, on August 23, 
1996, the Contracting Officer for the Air Force sent the blind licensee 
a memorandum stating that the Air Force viewed the priority provisions 
of the Randolph-Sheppard Act (the Act) as not being applicable to the 
contract. The Air Force further stated that the solicitation for the 
contract would be issued as a competitive acquisition set-aside for 
small businesses.
    Thereafter, the SLA's current contract was extended for an 
additional six-month period until March 31, 1997 to allow a 
solicitation for the contract to be issued on a competitive basis, with 
a set-aside for small businesses. The SLA filed a protest of this 
action with the Air Force. The Air Force rejected the protest by 
memorandum dated September 24, 1996. The Air Force's objection stated 
in part that the contract merely supported the Air Force's operation of 
the dining facility. The Air Force concluded that the operation of the 
dining hall resided with the Air Force. The Air Force's position was 
that the Randolph-

[[Page 32031]]

Sheppard Act did not apply to food service mess attendant services. 
Specifically, the Air Force said that individual tasks such as mess 
attendant, janitorial services, or grounds maintenance that support the 
Air Force's operation of a dining facility are not covered by the 
Randolph-Sheppard Act.
    On October 4, 1996, the SLA lodged a protest with the General 
Accounting Office. The Air Force responded to this protest on October 
9, 1996 seeking its dismissal. The General Accounting Office dismissed 
the protest on the basis that the appropriate method for resolution of 
the SLA's dispute was through the arbitration process pursuant to 
section 107d-2 of the Randolph-Sheppard Act and its implementing 
regulations in 34 CFR part 395.
    Subsequently, the SLA requested that a Federal arbitration panel be 
convened to hear this dispute. A hearing of this matter was held on 
December 17, 1997.

Arbitration Panel Decision

    The issue before the arbitration panel was whether the contract for 
the food service attendant services at Barksdale represented a contract 
for the operation of a cafeteria pursuant to the Randolph-Sheppard Act 
and implementing regulations.
    The arbitration panel ruled in a majority opinion that the contract 
was not for the operation of a cafeteria. Referencing the language in 
the priority section of the Act, and applying a plain meaning approach 
to the word ``operation,'' the arbitration panel reasoned that the 
issue should be based on a determination of who controls food cost and 
food quality. The panel determined that this must be done on a case-by-
case basis. Therefore, after careful and detailed comparison of the 
responsibilities of the blind licensee and of the Air Force, the panel 
concluded that the Air Force was operator of the cafeteria at Barksdale 
and that the priority provisions under the Act did not apply.
    One panel member dissented.
    The views and opinions expressed by the panel do not necessarily 
represent the views and opinions of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Dated: June 9, 1999.
Curtis L. Richards,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
[FR Doc. 99-15063 Filed 6-14-99; 8:45 am]