Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: A&T Systems, Inc.
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest of an agency’s technical evaluation is denied where the agency reasonably evaluated the awardee’s proposal consistent with the solicitation’s stated criteria.
- Protest that the awardee’s price is too low under a solicitation that did not provide for a price realism evaluation does not provide a valid basis to question an agency determination that the awardee’s price was reasonable.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
A&T Systems, Inc. protested the issuance to American Systems Corporation of a task order for telecommunication and engineering support services. The RFTOP, issued to small business vendors holding contracts under the GSA Connection II MAC, contemplated award on a lowest-priced, technically-acceptable basis, considering technical capability, relevant technical experience, and price. In analyzing prices, the agency compared prices received to an IGE, and also calculated an overall average price based on the three proposals included in the competitive range. The agency determined that both A&T and American’s systems prices were reasonable, and made award to American Systems.
A&T contended that American Systems’ proposal should have been found technically unacceptable because its staffing plan was inadequate to perform the work, in large part because A&T believed that, as the incumbent, only its proposal featured the absolute lowest staffing composition and corresponding price still capable of satisfying the solicitation requirements. The GAO rejected A&T’s arguments, noting that the record documented a detailed evaluation of American Systems’ proposal under the RFTOP evaluation criteria and described the basis for the agency’s judgment that American Systems’ proposal as technically acceptable
A&T also asserted that the agency did not compare the vendors’ proposed prices to historical prices and did not ensure that American Systems’ lower price reflected its technical approach. The GAO found that A&T’s objection that American Systems’ overall price was too low did not provide a valid basis to question the agency’s price reasonableness evaluation. It pointed out that the RFTOP only provided for a price reasonableness analysis, which evaluates whether prices are too high, not a price realism analysis. The GAO then found no basis to conclude that the awardee took exception to the solicitation requirements based on its price proposal.
Incumbent offerors should be careful not to rely on their incumbency in preparing proposals. Although being the incumbent does provide certain competitive advantages, incumbency alone will not result in more favorable evaluation ratings. Incumbent offerors should still strive to offeror innovations and improvements upon their current performance so as to present an attractive offer to the government.