Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of ABSG Consulting, Inc. (ABSG), a small business, regarding the award of a contract to Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (BAH), by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard, under a request for proposals (RFP) for systems engineering and technical assistance services at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC).
The RFP sought proposals for a six-year period under a single-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The non-price factors were technical understanding and management approach, staffing, corporate experience, and past performance. The two subfactors under the technical approach factor were technical understanding of the requirement and management approach to providing conflict-free advice to RDC. The staffing factor included two subfactors: program manager and principal investigators.
ABSG first challenges the agency’s assessment of its past performance. ABSG argues that the agency improperly minimized its advantages as incumbent contractor where the past performance evaluation was supposed to consider the same references submitted under the corporate experience evaluation. GAO reviewed the record and found that nothing in the record rendered a higher rating for ABSG as opposed to BAH. The record showed that both offerors received high marks and no weaknesses. ABSG was not entitled to a higher rating just because it was the incumbent contractor.
ABSG next challenges the cost realism analysis, arguing that the upward adjustment of its cost, based on the application of a higher rate to one of its subcontractors, was incorrect. GAO found that the subcontractor’s cost submission did not provide an explanation why the lower overhead rate was applicable to any of its labor. Because the RFP did not provide for the contractor to perform the required services at the agency’s RDC, the evaluators reasonably determined that the contractor would be entitled to charge its higher overhead rate on all services under the contract. Therefore, the evaluation was reasonable.
ABSG finally challenged the contracting officer’s decision to award the contract to BAH on the basis of a lower-rated, lower-cost proposal. However, GAO found that the record provided no basis for supporting ABSG’s position. The source selection decision considered all differences in the offerors’ proposals. The contracting officer found that two weaknesses identified in BAH’s proposal were not significant to its overall rating. Although the contracting officer agreed that ABSG had an advantage because it was the incumbent contractor, it was not enough to overcome its higher cost.