Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied
Keywords: Proposal Evaluation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In reviewing a protest against an agency’s evaluation of proposals, GAO will not reevaluate proposals but instead will examine the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable.
Andritz Hydro Corp. protests the evaluation of its proposal, and the award of a contract under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Corps of Engineers.
The RFP contemplated the award of a fixed-price contract for the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and testing of eight digital excitation systems, which are used to regulate and assist in the production of electricity by large generators. Award was to be made to the firm that submitted the proposal determined to represent the best value to the government considering technical factors and price. The RFP, as amended, provided for the evaluation of the following four technical factors, and related subfactors: (1) experience/ personnel/ schedule (subfactors for company experience, installation supervisor experience, commissioning engineer experience, and project schedule); (2) past performance (subfactors for site workmanship, customer satisfaction, schedule, and budget); (3) technical data (subfactors for drawings and sketches, descriptive literature, and maintainability); and (4) utilization of small business.
After Andritz’s proposal received a lower technical rating, award was made to another offeror. Andritz protests the reasonableness of the agency’s evaluation of its proposal under the experience/personnel/schedule and technical data factors. Under GAO case law, the evaluation of an offeror’s proposal is a matter within the agency’s discretion. In reviewing a protest against an agency’s evaluation of proposals, GAO will not reevaluate proposals but instead will examine the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable.
Andritz challenges the agency’s conclusion that the experience of its personnel, as demonstrated by the resumes for its proposed installation supervisor and commissioning engineer, was limited. GAO’s review of the record supports the reasonableness of the agency’s evaluation. In short, while Andritz contends that its personnel have numerous years of general electrical experience that should be considered relevant and given additional credit, the record confirms that the resumes at issue in Andritz’s proposal provided general assertions of past electrical work, and thus did not specifically implicate the more specialized exciter system installation and commission work to be performed here to justify a higher technical evaluation rating.
GAO also notes that the agency’s concerns about Andritz’s proposed schedule for performance, which led to a “marginal” rating under the schedule subfactor, are also well-founded. Specifically, each evaluator noted a serious weakness with Andritz’s proposed schedule in connection with its replacement of two related excitation units occurring four months apart. Under Andritz’s approach, when an old analog unit was replaced with a new digital unit, the new unit would interface with an old companion analog exciter for a 4?month period, until that unit was also replaced. The evaluators were concerned with this approach since Andritz did not identify or address issues of potential system instability from reactive power sharing between the units in the event the two different units are not compatible during the four-month delay between the replacement installations.
Lastly, Andritz contends that its proposal should have received higher than a “satisfactory” rating under the technical data evaluation factor. The agency report explains that the summary statement in the award notice indicating that Andritz failed to achieve a more favorable proposal rating because of the blank drawing pages was not an accurate reflection of the actual evaluation of the proposal. The agency explains, and the record confirms, that, as noted in each evaluator’s worksheet for the drawings and sketches evaluation subfactor, Andritz’s drawings were received, reviewed, and were considered complete, but only identified as satisfactory for meeting requirements–no appreciable strengths (or betterments, as were invited by the RFP) were identified to support a higher technical rating. The record further shows that the evaluators noted particular weaknesses with regard to the protester’s drawings that have not been refuted by Andritz. Thus, the protester’s suggestion that it should have received higher than a satisfactory rating under the drawings and sketches subfactor is not supported by the record. The protest is denied.