Pinnacle Solutions, Inc., B-406998, B-406998.2, October 16, 2012

Link: GAO Decision

Protestor: Pinnacle Solutions, Inc.

Agency: Department of the Army, Army Material Command

Disposition: Protest Denied.

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GAO Digest:

  1. Protest that agency held defective discussions is denied where agency did not hold discussions with either offeror, did not invite either offeror to revise its proposal, and limited the scope of its communications to clarifying and confirming what the offerors had already committed to do.
  2. Protest that agency misevaluated protester’s and awardee’s proposals is denied where the contemporaneous record shows that agency’s technical and past performance evaluations were reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.

General Counsel PC Highlight:

Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. (PSI) protested the award to Logistics Services International, Inc. (LSI) of a contract for the production of Black Hawk Maintenance Trainers, UH-60M (BHMT-M) to be used by United States Army Aviation Logistics School (USAALS) at Fort Eustis, Virginia. The BHMT-M is used for training of helicopter repair personnel to maintain a particular model of the Black Hawk helicopter, the UH-60M. To facilitate fabrication of the BHMT-M, the RFP provided that the Army would provide, as government-furnished equipment, one crash-damaged UH-60A/L helicopter for the first unit to be produced, followed later by one UH-60A/L “Category B” helicopter, for the second BHMT-M unit. The RFP contemplated award on a best value basis, considering technical, program management, price, small business participation, and past performance.

In its proposal, PSI proposed to rely on the reuse of “existing” or “legacy” software from another trainer, the BHET-M; it also indicated that it would reuse BHET-M elements to meet various other RFP requirements. The agency sent PSI multiple ENs reflecting the agency’s concern regarding the stage of development of the “existing” software on which PSI’s proposal relied. In response, PSI addressed the source of various elements of its system and the state of completion of the systems from which it proposed to use reuse elements. The agency concluded that LSI’s proposal was significantly superior to PSI’s, particularly under the two most important factors, and that it also offered a lower price.

The GAO first found that the agency had sought only clarifications from offerors, and not inadequate discussions as argued by PSI. The record supported the agency’s assertion that it merely requested information clarifying the basis for statements in PSI’s proposal, or confirming what PSI intended by a statement in its proposal. The GAO then rejected PSI’s arguments that the agency misevaluated its proposal and that offerors were treated unfairly with regards to software reuse. It agreed with the agency’s conclusion that the approach described by PSI appeared to primarily depend on the successful completion of software that had not yet been completed or delivered, and that this posed a risk in PSI’s ability to manage the contract. Finally, the GAO rejected PSI’s protest of the past performance evaluation of LSI, noting that the RFP did not limit relevance of past performance to performance on BHMT-M or Black Hawk trainers.

If proposing to utilize existing software or components in fulfilling the requirements of an RFP, offerors must ensure that they clearly detail how those components will be integrated, where they are in development and delivery, and how the offeror will accommodate any delays in delivery. While the use of existing software can reduce production time and cost, the offeror must be able to explain how it can ensure that delivery on the existing contract will not be hindered by progress on the contract where the software is being developed.