Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Technical Acceptability
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: No matter how competent an offeror may be, the technical evaluation must be based on information included in the firm’s quotation.
ALOPS protests the award of a contract under a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of the Army for the construction of residential concrete huts (“b-huts”).
The RFP contemplated the award of an indefinite?delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract to the offeror that submitted the lowest-priced, technically acceptable proposal in response to the RFP’s requirements. The RFP provided that technical proposals would be evaluated for technical approach, past performance and price. Under the technical approach factor, which was to be evaluated on a pass/fail basis, the RFP identified the following six subfactors: (1) mobilization and construction plans; (2) material delivery and installation plans; (3) quality control plans; (4) safety plans; (5) badging plans; and (6) design, drawings and specifications.
The RFP’s statement of work (SOW) required, among other things, a “Precast/Pre-stressed Concrete Institute (PCI) certified plant” and a quality control plan “which details the contractor’s plan to obtain PCI certification.” The SOW also required the contractor to provide “a design and calculations bearing the stamp of a registered professional [structural] engineer, registered [in] one of the United States.” Additionally, the SOW required that “[t]he finished b-hut shall be assembled from pre-cast units capable of being placed within an imaginary box which measures 10 feet by 10 feet by 37 feet for easy shipment to remote areas.”
The agency found ALOPS’s proposal to be technically unacceptable for failing to adequately demonstrate the offeror’s ability to meet the SOW requirements. ALOPS filed this protest. GAO states that in reviewing a protest against the propriety of an evaluation, it is not the agency’s role 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 statutes and regulations; a protester’s mere disagreement with the evaluation does not show it lacked a reasonable basis.
The RFP required each offeror to submit a sufficiently detailed technical proposal demonstrating how it would meet all of the SOW requirements, and cautioned that the failure to do so would be considered a technical deficiency (for which a rating of “fail” was to be assigned). The RFP’s SOW required a PCI-certified plant as well as a quality control plan detailing how the contractor would obtain the required PCI certification. The record reflects that the ALOPS’s proposal, at best, merely confirmed its intent to supply a PCI-certified plant–it did not provide any detail to explain how ALOPS planned to obtain the required certification, as required by the RFP. In this regard, the protester’s proposal merely states an intention to “submit all the documents needed” for PCI certification. Since ALOPS failed to provide any detail regarding its plan for obtaining PCI certification, as contemplated under the RFP’s quality control plans subfactor, the agency reasonably assigned ALOPS’s proposal a deficiency in this regard, and GAO has no basis to question the reasonableness of the rejection of the protester’s proposal as technically unacceptable.
Similarly, the record reflects that the agency reasonably identified a deficiency in the protester’s proposal for failing to identify a structural engineer registered in the United States. The SOW required the contractor to provide “a design and calculations bearing the stamp of a registered professional [structural] engineer, registered [in] one of the United States.” The only professional identified in the protester’s proposal was a civil engineer registered in Lebanon. Moreover, the technical drawings, which were included in the protester’s proposal, do not bear any professional seals or signature of any kind, much less those of an American-licensed structural engineer. Furthermore, the narrative information in the proposal submitted by ALOPS fails to provide any information as to how the firm planned to comply with the SOW requirement. GAO states that an offeror is responsible for demonstrating affirmatively the merits of its proposal and risks rejection if it fails to do so. No matter how competent an offeror may be, the technical evaluation must be based on information included in the firm’s quotation. The RFP here required the offerors to submit a technical approach demonstrating their ability to meet all of the SOW requirements. Since the protester’s proposal failed to do so, GAO has no basis to question the agency’s rejection of ALOPS’s proposal as technically unacceptable under the terms of the RFP. The protest is denied.