Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Defense Logistics Agency
Disposition: Protest sustained.
Keywords: Bid Protest Jurisdiction; Source Selection Decision
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: A source selection decision must be in writing and made in accordance with the stated evaluation criteria. Without such a written determination, the decision is considered to be unreasonable and arbitrary.
Biblia, Inc. (Biblia), protests an award by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), under a solicitation for a one-time barge movement from South Carolina to Virginia.
A solicitation was issued for barge transportation services to 72 carriers. The solicitation requested that carriers submit a tender for the movement by completing a carrier worksheet and returning it to the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). Carriers were informed that tenders “will be evaluated and all responsive responsible tenders will be sent to the Transportation Officer.” Seven tenders were received and they were ranked according to price. They were then sent to the transportation officer for review and a source selection decision. Biblia was ranked first with the lowest tender. However, another tender was chosen.
As a preliminary matter, DLA asserts that the protest is outside of GAO’s bid protest jurisdiction because the shipment was a “spot movement,” or a one-time shipment of a commodity on one bill of lading that requires special equipment or services not otherwise provided by tariff or special rate tender. GAO states that it has declined jurisdiction over protests of “spot buys” because each involved the issuance of a bill of lading for a one-time shipment using informal procedures without issuing a formal solicitation or making a source selection. Where, as here, the agency issued a formal solicitation to 72 carriers requesting price tenders and other information, and provided evaluation factors which would be considered in determining which tender would be selected for award, the spot buy clearly goes beyond the informal spot movement procedures employed by the agency in those cases where jurisdiction was declined. GAO will consider the protest.
Biblia asserts that the agency’s evaluation was flawed because it was the best value carrier with the lowest tender. GAO agrees. GAO states that an agency’s evaluation and award decision are required to be made in accordance with the terms of the solicitation. The solicitation here indicated that award would be made to the low cost carrier, which had been determined responsive and responsible under the factors set forth. There is nothing in the record that supports the transportation officer’s best value decision. The record provides no documentation as to why the low cost carrier was not selected. Since the record does not provide a reasonable basis for the best-value award decision, GAO sustains the protest.