Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: An agency is not required to repeat discussions where the offeror is informed of a problem and fails to correct the problem in a final proposal revision.
A.P. Logistics, LLC (APL) protests the award of a contract under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of the Army (Army), for storage services for privately-owned vehicles.
The RFP provided for award of an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract on a “best value” basis and identified the following evaluation factors: mission capability, past performance, small business participation, and price. Offerors were informed that the agency would not conduct discussions before making and award and offerors should put their best terms from a price and technical standpoint in their initial proposal. Large business offerors, like APL, were instructed to submit small business subcontracting plans with their initial proposals.
APL’s proposal was assigned several weaknesses, including under the small business participation factor. Specifically, the Army identified concerns with APL’s submitted small business subcontracting plan and informed APL that its subcontracting plan did not indicate the total amount of the contract that would be subcontracted, did not address the types of services/supplies to be subcontracted or include a breakdown of which supplies/services would be planned for subcontracting in the different small business categories, and did not describe the methods used to develop goals and to identify potential sources. APL submitted a revised proposal, but it was found ineligible for award since it small business subcontracting plan was unacceptable.
APL asserts that the requirement that “the apparently successful offeror” submit an acceptable subcontracting plan indicates that the agency would negotiate a subcontracting plan only after the agency identified the apparently successful offeror. GAO states that it was within the contracting officer’s discretion to negotiate the details of APL’s subcontracting plan. However, the Army had already asked APL during both written and oral discussions to provide answers to specific questions concerning the subcontracting plan and APL failed to adequately response. Therefore, the Army was not required, in these circumstances, to revisit its nonresponsibility determination by providing APL another opportunity to address the same questions that it had failed to answer during discussions. The protest is denied.