Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denies the protest of Chameleon Integrated Services regarding the award of a contract to CSSS.NET, under a request for quotation (RFQ) issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for information technology (IT) computer operation support services.
USDA issued the RFQ via the General Services Administration (GSA) e-Buy system on January 19, 2012, to 8(a) vendors holding Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services (STARS) II contracts. The RFQ provided for the issuance of a task order on a labor-hour basis with a four-month base period, four one-year option periods, and one eight-month option period. The RFP provided that award would be made to the vendor whose quotation represented the best value to the agency, considering the following factors listed in descending order of importance: technical approach, past performance, and price. The RFQ identified three technical approach subfactors: staffing plan for hiring employees, corporate security plan for hiring new contractor employees, and transition plan. The technical approach and past performance factors, when combined, were stated to be significantly more important than price. As relevant here, the RFQ provided that the agency would review proposed prices for “completeness, reasonableness, and price realism.”
Chameleon argued that the agency impermissibly provided CSSS with Chameleon’s quoted price when it took corrective action and reevaluated the proposals and that it was unreasonable for the agency to disclose to CSSS that the two other vendors had proffered lower prices. However, the record did not support Chameleon’s assertion that the agency disclosed the firm’s quoted price to the awardee. Rather, the record established that the awardee was advised that other vendors had submitted lower prices. Despite being told that its price was not disclosed, Chameleon maintained that it was “quite likely” that CSSS received an unredacted version of Chameleon’s initial protest that included price information. However, the record included sworn statements from USDA officials affirming that Chameleon’s original protest (with the price information) was not provided to the awardee. Additionally, the protester presented no support for its claim that its price was disclosed, and its unsubstantiated speculation did not provide a basis to sustain the protest.