Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Administrative Office of the United States Courts
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of Qwest Government Services, Inc., doing business as CenturyLink QGS, based on the award of a task order to Level 3 Communications, LLC, under a request for task order proposals (RFTOP), issued by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC), for the installation of a secondary wide area network (WAN) to serve as an emergency backup to federal courthouse locations.
The agency issued the RFTOP for network installation and services relating to the WAN Diversity project under the General Services Administration’s multiple-award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity Networx Enterprise contract. The RFTOP anticipated the award of a task order for a base year with four one-year options to the technically acceptable offeror with the lowest price. Offerors were required to submit a technical proposal and a price proposal. Price proposals were to be based on a pricing template attached to the RFTOP, which consisted of a spreadsheet with detailed instructions.
CenturyLink argued that the AOUSC’s price evaluation should have interpreted various pricing notes included at the bottom of its tabbed sheets as reducing its proposed price. The protester asserted that the agency erred by not using these notes to discern the difference between the price it proposed, under the limitations of the RFTOP, and the discounted price it wanted to propose. The agency argued that the assumptions and recommendations in the protester’s pricing notes constituted objections to the RFTOP’s stated evaluation methodology, and that the agency’s consideration of the notes would have been improper and would have constituted unequal treatment of the offerors. GAO agreed with the agency, stating that the protester’s pricing notes effectively took exception to the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. GAO concluded that the agency’s price evaluation of CenturyLink’s pricing template, without consideration of the pricing notes, was reasonable.