Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of protester’s proposal is denied where the record establishes that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
CDS generally contends that the agency unreasonably evaluated its technical proposal, which was rated unacceptable under the technical approach and delivery factors, marginal under the experience factor, and neutral for past performance. The agency responds that due to a critical lack of information in the protester’s proposal, it was unable to determine that the firm had a sufficient understanding of the statement of work requirements; the agency concluded that the information provided by the protester was insufficient to rate its proposal acceptable under the technical approach and delivery factors. GAO states that in reviewing protests of alleged improper evaluations and source selections, it examines the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable and in accord with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria and applicable procurement laws. It is an offeror’s responsibility to submit an adequately written proposal that establishes its capability and the merits of its proposed technical approach in accordance with the evaluation terms of the solicitation. A protester’s mere disagreement with the evaluation provides no basis to question the reasonableness of the evaluators’ judgments. Further, where, as here, technical factors are to be given greater importance than price in the determination of which proposal offers the agency the best overall value, price/technical tradeoffs may be made, and GAO will not disturb awards to offerors whose proposals have higher technical ratings and higher prices so long as the result is consistent with the evaluation factors and the agency has reasonably determined that the technical superiority outweighs the price difference.
Under the experience factor, the evaluators rated the proposal marginal, finding that, although the summaries of work performed by CDS indicated a willingness to provide customer service and effective communication with the customer, with evidence of quick response and on-time deliveries, the work descriptions provided in the proposal failed to demonstrate the relevance of the work to the substantial and varied statement of work requirements set out in the RFP; none of the five contracts presented for evaluation was demonstrated to be of similar size, scope, and complexity as the work required under the RFP. Under the past performance factor, the proposal was rated neutral for demonstrating little or no relevant past performance, since the proposal’s contract descriptions did not provide details to demonstrate work of similar size, scope, and complexity, and no past performance reference surveys were submitted for consideration, as required by the RFP.
The solicitation required detailed responses from offerors in their proposals setting out their planned procedures to perform a comprehensive set of requirements. GAO’s review of the record confirms the reasonableness of the agency’s findings of a critical lack of information in the proposal to demonstrate the firm’s understanding of, and planned procedures to meet, the multitude of performance requirements set out in the RFP. Since such information was necessary for evaluation under the first two technical evaluation factors, GAO has no basis to question the reasonableness of the ratings of unacceptable assigned to the firm’s proposal under the technical approach and delivery evaluation factors. The RFP also required a demonstration of relevant experience performing contracts of similar size, scope, and complexity, valued at $1 million and performed within the past five years. GAO’s review of the record shows there is no basis to question the reasonableness of the marginal rating assigned under the experience evaluation factor, since the protester’s proposal failed to demonstrate that the contracts it referenced for review were either performed within the past five years or encompassed work of similar size, scope, or complexity (or met the dollar value threshold required) compared to the work requirements. Given the lack of detail in CDS’s proposal under each technical evaluation factor, GAO has no basis to question the evaluation. Further, since the RFP provided for awards based on a determination of which proposals presented the best value to the agency, with technical merit more important than price, there is no basis to question the selection of a higher-rated, lower-priced proposal, and a higher-rated, higher-priced proposal. While CDS disagrees with the evaluation and awards, its mere disagreement does not show that the agency’s actions were not reasonably based. The protest is denied.