Strategic Resources, Inc., B-406841.2, November 27, 2012

Link: GAO Decision

Protestor: Strategic Resources, Inc.

Agency: Department of the Army

Disposition: Protest Denied.

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GAO Digest:

  1. Protest alleging that the awardee’s proposal violated the solicitation’s unclear proposal font requirement is denied where the protester’s proposal does not comply with its own interpretation of the requirement.
  2. Protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of the offerors’ technical proposals is denied where the record shows that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation.
  3. Protest challenging the agency’s price realism evaluation is denied where the protester does not challenge the alternative basis upon which the agency found the awardee’s proposed price to be realistic.

General Counsel PC Highlight:

Strategic Resources, Inc. (SRI) protested the award to Armed Forces Services Corporation (AFSC) of a task order for services in support of the Army’s New Parent Support Program (NPSP). The TOR, issued to holders of the agency’s Human Resource Solutions Personnel Services and Support MACs, provided for award on a best value basis, with the technical factor being significantly more important than price. Although the SSA concluded that SRI’s status as the incumbent provided added value based on its direct experience with the NPSP program, it was not worth the price premium of $3.4 million as compared to AFSC’s proposal. After an initial award to AFSC and subsequent protest, the agency took corrective action and revised the price evaluation to address the realism of offerors’ proposed prices.

The GAO first found no basis to sustain SRI’s protest that AFSC used a font size smaller than permitted. Although the TOR limited proposals to fonts “not smaller than 12 pitch font size,” the GAO noted that the meaning of this provision in the TOR was not clear, as the term “pitch” does not apply to variable-width fonts permitted under the TOR. The GAO then denied SRI’s challenges to the evaluation of offerors’ technical proposals. Although SRI argued it was unreasonable to assign AFSC a strength for proposing certain benefits while expressing concerns regarding the nature and extent of those benefits, the record showed the agency expressly considered both the strength and concern and nonetheless found the approach to be a strength that distinguished AFSC’s proposal from SRI. The GAO found that the agency had reasonably concluded that AFSC’s revised proposal addressed its various concerns regarding staffing and in-person consultations. Finally, the GAO determined that the agency’s price realism evaluation was reasonable because it relied on two acceptable analysis techniques which stood alone, even if a third method may have been questionable.

After failing to win a contract, many offerors have the initial desire to protest. Where available, disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing to determine the reasoning behind the award and to understand what shortcomings their own proposal may have had. Although the offeror should carefully evaluate whether the source selection decision complied with the terms of the solicitation, honing in on issues such as font size may result in protest expenditures that do not lead to a successful outcome.