Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: ASRC Research & Technology Solutions, LLC
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that contracting agency’s evaluation of protester’s technical, past performance, and cost proposals was unreasonable and inadequately documented is denied where the record shows that the evaluation was reasonable and sufficiently supported.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
ASRC Research & Technology Solutions, LLC (ARTS) protested the award to Vantage Partners, LLC (VPL) of a contract to obtain engineering, research and technology development, operations, and project management support for the Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Ohio. The award was an 8(a) set-aside that was a follow-on to a contract held by ARTS’ sister company. The source selection authority found ARTS and VPL’s technical proposals to be relatively equal, and made award to VPL based on its lower price and high confidence in its price proposal, finding it was not outweighed by any meaningful mission suitability or past performance advantage for ARTS.
The GAO first disregarded ARTS’s criticism that the agency failed to adequately document its evaluation findings, noting that the GAO is not limited to considering contemporaneously-documented evidence but may also consider the parties’ later arguments and explanations. It pointed out that ARTS’s interpretation of the RFP forced together two unrelated provisions, when ARTS should have interpreted the RFP consistently as a whole. It found the agency’s evaluations of ARTS and VPL’s recruitment, retention, staffing, and compensation plans to be reasonable, and disagreed that ARTS’s evaluation under the work management factor should have been higher. The GAO rejected ARTS’ assertion that the agency improperly considered a past contract of ARTS that was not relevant, and also assigned strengths to VPL based on irrelevant small contracts. It further found that the agency was allowed to consider the past performance of subcontractors who were not “major subcontractors” (those performing 15% of the contract effort) so long as the subcontractors will substantially contribute to the proposed contract. The GAO found the agency’s cost realism analysis reasonable, disagreeing that an audit of the offerors’ indirect rates was a “mere mathematical exercise.”
When preparing an offer, a firm should make sure it provides detailed reasoning behind its proposals, including rationale and schedule for achieving any requirements that is making it not capable of performing. However, in focusing in on the details, offerors should make sure not to lose sight of the big picture, and should always consider the RFP as a whole. A reading of the RFP requirements individually that does not also take into account the entire procurement may lead to the assessment of weaknesses in an offeror’s proposal.