Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Alliant Techsystems, Inc.
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest arguing that agency has improperly precluded price revisions is denied where the underlying basis for the allegation–the protester’s interpretation of the solicitation’s amendments issued in connection with corrective action–is unreasonable.
- Additional round of discussions, conducted as part of agency corrective action, that did not raise weaknesses identified during the protester’s post-award debriefing, is unobjectionable where those weaknesses had been raised during prior rounds of discussions.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Alliant Techsystems, Inc. (ATK) protested the corrective action taken by the Army in response to a protest by ATK against the award of a contract to BAE Systems Ordinance Systems Inc. for the operation of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. ATK argues that solicitation amendments, issued as part of the implementation of corrective action, improperly prevented ATK from revising its price proposal in response to permitted changes to its technical proposal. ATK had initially protested following award to BAE after learning that the agency had sent a post-award letter to BAE instructing it to remove various ground rules and assumptions in its proposal that the agency deemed “unacceptable.”
The GAO found the Army’s decision to limit amendments to only revisions to technical proposals to be reasonable, as the agency’s overall goal was to narrowly remedy the concerns that had led to corrective action. It further disagreed with ATK’s argument that the agency’s discussions with ATK during the corrective action were unduly limited in scope. The Army noted that it had given ATK numerous opportunities to address weaknesses in its proposal as identified in the debriefing. The GAO agreed with the agency that it was not required to expand the scope of its corrective action to revisit those issues.
Although a bid protest may be successful in that the agency in question elects to take corrective action in response to the protest, a contractor may not ultimately receive the contract as a result of its successful protest and may not have the opportunity to address weaknesses in its original offer outside the scope of the corrective action. In this situation, the corrective action taken by the Army was limited to those issues raised by the post-award letter to BAE and subsequent ADR with the GAO; ATK was not allowed to correct any issues previously raised in discussions. Contractors should think carefully about the scope of any contemplated protests; correcting alleged deficiencies in the solicitation process may not provide an outlet for the protestor to remedy any weaknesses in its own offer.