Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Technical Evaluation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In reviewing a protest against an agency’s evaluation, GAO will not reevaluate quotations but instead will examine the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable and consistent with the stated criteria and applicable procurement statutes and regulations.
1-A Construction & Fire, LLP protests the issuance of a task order under a request for quotations (RFQ), issued by the Department of Agriculture, for the construction of reservoirs in a national forest.
The RFQ contemplated the issuance of a fixed-price task order for the construction of six ponds/reservoirs and was to be issued to the vendor whose quotation conforming to the solicitation was determined to the most advantageous to the Government considering relevant past performance, benefit to the local community, and price. The RFQ instructed vendors to list their relevant projects, “similar in nature and complexity to that required,” that were completed during the past two years or that are currently in progress. Under the benefit to community factor, vendors were to provide a summary of how they planned to benefit the local area, “with respect to people working on the project, any rental equipment that will be provided from businesses, housing and meal facilities used, etc.”
Although 1-A submitted the lowest-priced proposal, it identified limited reservoir experience and provided limited information about that experience. 1-A also provided a limited response for the benefit to the local community factor, which stated only that the reservoir project would provide water sources for cows and wildlife, and was insufficient to explain how the firm planned to benefit the local area.
1-A contends that the agency unreasonably concluded that its quotation was unacceptable under the benefit to local community factor and contends it was sufficient for the firm to have noted in its quotation that the pond project will provide water for cows and wildlife.
GAO states that in reviewing a protest against the propriety of an evaluation, it is not GAO’s function to independently evaluate proposals and substitute its judgment for that of the contracting activity. Rather, GAO will review an evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the evaluation criteria in the solicitation and applicable procurement statues and regulations.
Here, the RFQ specifically instructed vendors to address how they planned to benefit the local community in carrying out the project through local hiring, local equipment rentals, and the use of housing and meal facilities. 1-A’s response was general and not meaningful, since the RFQ clearly required establishment of how the vendor’s own planned activities in performance of the project would provide a direct economic benefit to the local community. Given 1-A’s failure to adequately address this requirement, the agency acted reasonably in finding 1-A’s quotation unacceptable. Protest denied.