Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest sustained.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO sustained the protest of BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Inc., regarding the award of a contract to L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, under a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of the Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, for contractor logistics support (CLS) of certain trainer aircraft at multiple locations.
The RFP provided for the award of a hybrid fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and cost-reimbursement contract, for a base period of 60 days with 18 three-month option periods. The solicitation specified that award would be made to the offeror whose proposal was determined to represent the best value to the government, considering the following four evaluation factors: (1) management and maintenance approach, (2) past performance, (3) experience, and (4) price.
BAE raised a number of arguments challenging the evaluation of the proposals under the management and maintenance approach, past performance, and experience evaluation factors. Although GAO agreed with the agency in some respects, GAO ultimately determined that the agency did not adequately resolve the concerns raised by BAE regarding key terms in the L-3’s proposal. That is, the agency never meaningfully responded to the protester’s arguments that language in the L-3’s proposal would have a significant impact on the L-3’s commitment to perform. Given these concerns, and the agency’s failure during the course of this protest to meaningfully respond to the protester’s arguments in this regard or provide any reasonable explanation regarding the terms in the L-3’s proposal, GAO could not find this aspect of the agency’s evaluation of L-3’s proposal to be reasonable.
BAE also argued that the agency’s assessment of its proposal as having a “significant weakness” based upon the agency’s determination that BAE lacked experience with the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) process was not reasonably based. GAO found that the agency did not identify any discussion of the NAMP experience of BAE personnel in the contemporaneous record. Therefore, it was unclear whether the agency was aware of the NAMP experience of BAE’s personnel but elected not to consider it, or whether the section of BAE’s FPR setting forth the NAMP experience of its personnel was simply overlooked. Additionally, while the agency was correct that the solicitation did not expressly provide that “personnel experience” would be considered under the experience factor, the solicitation did not expressly prohibit the consideration of personnel experience under the experience factor. Contrary to the agency’s position, it is generally proper for an agency to consider the experience of the offeror’s personnel in evaluating a firm’s experience, GAO stated. GAO failed to see why the agency did not consider, in any manner at all, the years of experience BAE’s personnel had with NAMP processes. Accordingly, GAO found that the agency’s evaluation of BAE’s proposal under the experience factor was unreasonable.