Link: GAO Opinion
Agencies: Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Keywords: Technical Acceptability, Discussions
General Counsel, P.C. Highlight: Discussions are adequate where the agency directs the offeror to the problem areas of the proposal. Errors remaining in the proposal after discussions may form the basis of a determination that the technical proposal is unacceptable.
The Army Corps of Engineers issued a request for task order proposals (RFP) for the design and construction of a barracks complex at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. After the task order was awarded to B.L. Harbert International, Inc., Clark/Caddell Joint Venture protested the award claiming that the Army’s evaluation of its proposal under the performance capability factor as unacceptable was improper. A contract line item (CLIN) in the solicitation required offerors to state the duration of the contract in calendar days, with a maximum of 690 calendar days for both design and construction.
In Clark/Caddell’s original proposal, there was a discrepancy between its CLIN estimate and the amount of days that it indicated in the summary schedule of its technical proposal. During discussions, Clark/Caddell was notified of this difference and responded, however, their response did not satisfy the Army’s concerns. The Army opened a second round of discussions and Clark/Caddell was again notified of the discrepancy. It responded by stating that its total contract duration would be 560 days, but it never made the change in the summary schedule of its technical proposal. The Army decided that because the amount of days entered in the CLIN schedule (560 days) was binding and because this amount of time was very short, the risk of unsuccessful performance was very high. The proposal was thus deemed unacceptable under the performance capability factor.
GAO found nothing improper with the Army’s evaluation of the proposals. Not only was the 560 days inconsistent with prior statements and with the duration listed in the summary schedule, but the length of time was reasonably determined to be too short for the project. In protests of this sort, GAO will not reevaluate the technical proposal, instead it will examine the agency’s evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the stated criteria in the solicitation. Based on this analysis, the Army’s evaluation was reasonable and Clark/Caddell’s protest was denied.