Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Technical and past performance factors
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Where a protester challenges an agency’s evaluation of proposals, our Office will not independently reevaluate the proposals but, rather, will examine the record to determine whether the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the RFP and applicable statutes and regulations.
Pursuant to a request for proposals (RFP), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded a contract to Walco, Inc. for headstone raising and realignment and turf maintenance services at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. The RFP was to be awarded on a “best value” basis and sought fixed-price proposals for a period of time from November 9, 2009 (or the date of the award, whichever was later) to September 30, 2010. The VA received 14 proposals, including one from AllServ, Inc., and based on the evaluation criteria, awarded the contract to Walco, whose proposal received the highest technical ratings, despite its price being higher than AllServ’s. AllServ protested this decision.
Principally, AllServ challenged the VA’s rating of its proposal as “marginal” under the technical factor, a rating that the record shows was based on a table in AllServ’s proposal that showed a performance schedule different from the schedule in the RFP. This table, entitled “Monthly Hours”, provided hours by labor category spread across a 12-month period that commenced in February and concluded in January. The evaluators downgraded the proposal because this table was in contrast to the specified schedule in the RFP. AllServ countered, by asserting that the table’s inclusion was there to show its monthly staffing profile, rather than as a representation of the period of performance for the contract.
GAO’s review of the record was in agreement with the VA’s determination. Because the 12-month table was included without an explanation as to why it did not represent the period of time to complete the contract, it was reasonable for the VA to downgrade AllServ’s proposal under the technical factor.
AllServ also asserted that the VA unreasonably assigned Walco a similar past performance rating, even though Walco’s past performance did not included headstone realignment work. GAO was not convinced by this argument. Walco’s past performance did not include headstone realignment work, but did include two prior contracts for turf renovation and landscaping services, for which it received outstanding ratings. AllServ’s past performance did include one contract for headstone realignment, though the scope of the work (4,000 headstones) was deemed to have limited relevance to the present contract (54,000 headstones). Furthermore, because the RFP did not specifically require an offeror to show a certain amount of headstone-related past performance, GAO determined that there was nothing unreasonable in the agency’s assignment of the same rating to both Walco and AllServ. As such, GAO denied AllServ’s protest.