Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Transportation
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Certification Requirements
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Where a protester challenges an agency’s evaluation resulting in the rejection of its proposal as unacceptable, GAO’s review is limited to considering whether the evaluation is reasonable and consistent with the terms of the RFP and applicable procurement statutes and regulations.
Camden Shipping Corporation (Camden) protests the rejection of its proposal under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT), for ship manager services for 10 ships.
The RFP contemplated the award of multi-year, fixed-price service contracts with cost reimbursable items. The selected contractor will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of 10 very large government-owned vessels. “Ship Group 26,” for which solicited services were set aside for small business concerns, is comprised of two fast sealift ships. These ships require a high level of sophistication to operate due to their size and speed. The RFP included a mandatory eligibility requirement that required offeror’s to have operated or owned and operated, a very large vessel within the past five years. The RFP also required offeror’s to complete a “K.19” certification demonstrating compliance with the eligibility requirement.
The RFP also stated, with regard to the past performance factor, that the agency would assess the relevancy of each offeror’s present and past performance, including the past performance of the offeror’s subcontractors. However, the contractor awarded the contract must perform the “core services” required.
Camden submitted a proposal in response to the RFP for Ship Group 26 and submitted a vessel owner/operator certification in accordance with section K.19, which indicated that Camden was not a current operator or owner/operator of a vessel of the requisite size and, instead, stated that Camden was relying on a certification for its teaming partner and principle subcontractor for compliance with the requirement. Camden was advised that its proposal was eliminated from further consideration due to its certification statement.
Camden asserts that it was improper for the agency to reject its proposal simply because it relied on the experience of its subcontractor to satisfy the vessel owner/operator requirement.
GAO states that where a protester challenges an agency’s evaluation resulting in the rejection of its proposal as unacceptable, GAO’s review is limited to considering whether the evaluation is reasonable and consistent with the terms of the RFP and applicable procurement statutes and regulations. The protester’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment does not establish that an evaluation was unreasonable.
Based on a review of the record, GAO finds that the RFP continuously warned vendors that in order to be eligible for award, the offeror had to meet mandatory eligibility requirements and had to submit adequate documentation to demonstrate compliance. The K.19 certification made no mention of accepting, in lieu of the offeror’s certification, a certification of a subcontractor or teaming partner. That the certification was required by the offeror, and not its subcontractors, is also consistent with the section requiring that core services be performed by the offeror and not its subcontractors. GAO finds that the agency’s refusal to accept the certification was reasonable. The protest is denied.