Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Agency’s evaluation of offerors’ proposals and the resulting award determination are unobjectionable where the evaluation and the award determination were reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
American challenges the agency’s evaluation of it’s and the awardee’s past performance, as well as its evaluation under the management evaluation factor. In addition, American argues that its lower-priced proposal should have been viewed as the proposal offering the best value to the government. The evaluation of technical proposals, including past performance, is a matter within the discretion of the contracting agency. In reviewing an agency’s evaluation, GAO will not reevaluate technical proposals; instead, it will examine the agency’s evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria. An offeror’s mere disagreement with the agency’s evaluation does not render the evaluation unreasonable. Additionally, source selection officials have broad discretion in determining the manner and extent to which they will make use of the technical and cost evaluation results, and their judgments are governed only by the tests of rationality and consistency with the stated evaluation criteria. Where, as here, the RFP allows for a price-technical tradeoff, the selection official retains discretion to select a higher-priced but also technically higher-rated submission, if doing so is in the government’s best interest and is consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation and source selection scheme.
The record shows that the agency rated American marginal under the past performance evaluation factor primarily because the Construction Contractor Appraisal Support System (CCASS) database contained two reports that American had problems meeting schedule requirements. Specifically, with respect to a dredging project valued at $3 million, American received a rating of marginal, and comments advising that its schedule adherence was a weak point and that timelines were not met which caused problems. This report also rated American’s performance unsatisfactory for resolution of delays, cooperation, and responsiveness. The second CCASS report relied on by the agency involved a $127,400 water pumping project for which American received an overall rating of satisfactory, with a rating of marginal for adhering to the project’s approved schedule.
Additionally, the record shows that the awardee received good past performance ratings from the references submitted with its proposal, including a CCASS report for another Navy pier project valued at $6 million for which the awardee received an above average performance rating. As the protester notes, the awardee also included the performance survey for a project in which it received an overall rating of highly acceptable. The agency explains that it did not view this report as negative past performance information because the evaluator’s comments were very positive, and because the CO there commended the awardee for its outstanding performance. In addition, the CO there specifically noted as a significant accomplishment that the awardee finished the pier deck and utility demolition exactly on schedule. This information does not support American’s assertion that it and the awardee received disparate treatment.
The RFP here specifically warned offerors that due to the limited time available for in-water work, a clear understanding of the schedule requirements was very important, and schedules would be evaluated to determine whether the proposal demonstrated this understanding. GAO has reviewed American’s proposal in this area and compared it with the proposal of General. As an initial matter, GAO notes that American appears to be correct in its assertion that its proposed schedule complied with the limitations of the fish window, even though the window was neither mentioned nor acknowledged in any narrative, nor expressly shown on the schedule. In contrast, the awardee’s proposal is explicit about the window and how it impacts the work schedule here. In short, given the emphasis on, and significance of, adhering to the schedule in the RFP, GAO finds the agency reasonably rated more highly the proposal that expressly acknowledged and referenced the fish window to demonstrate its understanding of the specific time constraints for this project.
Finally, in making her source selection decision, the source selection authority (SSA) prepared a detailed decision document comparing American’s and the awardee’s proposals. The SSA then specifically concluded that the awardee’s proposal was worth the additional price premium because of its greater technical merit, and superior past performance. The fact that the protester disagrees with the SSA, does not establish that the SSA’s determination was unreasonable. The protest is denied.