Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: CE Support Services JV
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest of the agency’s evaluation of the protester’s past performance is denied where the agency reasonably assessed the protester’s past performance in accordance with the solicitation’s evaluation criterion.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
CE Support Services JV protested the award to Solution One Industries of a contract for base-wide civil engineering support for the operations, maintenance, and repair of facilities at Robins AFB, Georgia. Offerors were informed that award would be made on a best value basis considering past performance and price, with the past performance factor being more important than price. Offerors were required to submit past performance information for themselves and any joint venture partner, clearly correlating past performance with the requirements of the RFP. More recent and relevant past performance would have a greater impact on the confidence assessment. The agency took corrective action in response to a first protest by CE and reevaluated CE’s past performance, upgrading its past performance evaluation from unknown confidence to satisfactory. The agency concluded that Solution One’s much better past performance outweighed CE’s lower price, and confirmed its initial award to the higher-priced Solution One.
CE argued that the agency unreasonably found that joint venture partner F3’s subcontract past performance was not relevant. The GAO found no reason to question the agency’s judgment that F3’s subcontract was not relevant to the work solicited here, noting that the information provided to the agency indicating that F3’s support services were limited to energy audits, and not relevant facilities maintenance and repair. The GAO then found no merit to CE’s challenge of the agency’s best value selection, noting that the agency reasonably found meaningful differences between the quantity and quality of the firms’ past performance, notwithstanding their identical satisfactory confidence ratings.
Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing so as to better understand how its proposal was evaluated and to ensure that the proposal was evaluated in accordance with the stated criteria. Offerors must remember that color or adjectival ratings are merely guides for decision-making in the procurement process, and the agency may still find meaningful differences between offerors who receive the same evaluation rating. While merely disagreeing with the agency’s award decision is insufficient to sustain a protest, if there is not adequate support for that decision or if the evaluation was not consistent with the criteria in the RFP, the disappointed offeror may have grounds for a protest.