Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of Building Operations Support Services (BOSS), LLC, based on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) award of a contract to Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc., under a request for proposals (RFP) for facilities operations and maintenance services at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
NASA issued the RFP as a competitive section 8(a) set-aside seeking proposals for a wide variety of facilities operations and maintenance services. The RFP provided for the award of a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with a technical performance incentive fee for the RFP’s core services, as well as an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity portion for other services and construction. The RFP contemplated a two-year base period of performance and three one-year option periods. Award was to be made following a best value trade-off analysis considering cost/price and two non-price factors: mission suitability and past performance. With respect to the mission suitability factor, the RFP identified two subfactors–technical approach and management approach–that encompassed 20 different areas that NASA would evaluate.
First, BOSS objected to the agency’s evaluation of its proposal under the mission suitability factor. BOSS argued that NASA failed to assess every aspect of its proposal and only evaluated the areas of its proposal that were identified as a significant strength or strength. Here, the agency’s evaluation of BOSS’s proposal under the mission suitability factor was unobjectionable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation. The agency explained that each member of the six-person SEB evaluated every aspect of the offerors’ initial and final proposals. As contemplated by the solicitation, the evaluators classified their findings (as strengths, weaknesses, etc.), reached a consensus on the findings, assigned adjectival ratings and points for each subfactor, and presented their consensus findings to the SSA. The evaluators rated BOSS’s final proposal as having one significant strength and three strengths under the technical approach subfactor and no strengths, weaknesses, or deficiencies under the management approach subfactor. The SEB’s ratings of very good under the technical approach subfactor and good under the management approach subfactor were consistent with the definitions of very good and good in NFS § 1815.305.
Next, BOSS challenged the agency’s evaluation under the past performance factor. Specifically, BOSS argued that its proposal should have received a higher past performance rating than Chugach’s because Chugach placed “significant reliance” on the past performance of its subcontractors. With regard to Chugach’s past performance, the SEB evaluated a total of eight past performance projects, three of which were performed by Chugach’s significant subcontractor. In accordance with the RFP, NASA assessed the relevance of each effort in terms of size, content, and complexity as compared to the procurement at issue, as well as a consideration of customer satisfaction. The evaluators reached consensus and assigned an overall performance rating of very high to the five efforts performed by Chugach; to the three efforts performed by Chugach’s subcontractor, the evaluators assigned one very high rating and two high ratings. Based on the ratings, and consistent with the past performance evaluation criteria, GAO concluded that NASA reasonably assigned Chugach’s proposal a past performance confidence rating of very high. There is no indication in the record that
did not weigh the past performance projects of Chugach “more heavily” than the projects of its significant subcontractor, as required by the RFP, GAO noted. Any suggestion otherwise is not supported by the facts because two of the three past performance projects attributed to Chugach’s subcontractor were rated lower overall than the projects that Chugach performed. The evaluation criteria do not contemplate that an offeror who merely submits more past performance projects attributable to the prime would receive a higher past performance rating on that basis, as the protester suggested. Therefore, the protester’s challenge to the agency’s past performance evaluation is without merit and did not provide a basis to sustain the protest.
Lastly, BOSS objected to the source selection decision on the basis that the SEB report demonstrated a “functional tie” between proposals and that the agency did not explain why award was made to Chugach. BOSS argued that NASA “should have placed more weight on cost.” However, a review of the record showed that the source selection authority’s statement explains a well-reasoned basis for a tradeoff that justified paying Chugach’s higher price. The SSA explained that he carefully reviewed the SEB’s consensus findings with regard to each of the evaluation factors. The record showed that the SSA looked beyond the adjectival and percentile ratings and detailed in his statement the strengths and significant strengths of both proposals under the mission suitability factor. The SSA noted that Chugach’s proposal received more strengths and significant strengths than BOSS’s (10 versus 4), and found that the “advantages offered by the Chugach proposal would likely result in performance benefits . . . .” The SSA determined that Chugach’s mission suitability proposal was “substantially better” than BOSS’s. Based on a review of the record, GAO concluded that the agency’s source selection decision was adequately documented, and found no basis to question the agency’s determination that Chugach’s proposal represented a better value to the government than did BOSS’s proposal.