Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: CLS Worldwide Support Services, LLC
Agency: Department of the Army
- Protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of proposals is denied where the evaluation was reasonably based, consistent with the solicitation criteria, and treated the offerors equally.
- Protest challenging the source selection authority’s (SSA) conclusion that the advantages in the awardee’s non-cost/price proposal merited selection of its higher cost/price proposal is denied where the SSA’s judgments were reasonable, consistent with the stated evaluation scheme, and adequately documented.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
CLS Worldwide Support Services, LLC, (CWS2) protested the award to ManTech Telecommunications and Information Systems Corporation of a contract for mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) family of vehicles contractor logistics sustainment and support services (CLSS). The RFP divided the performance of the MRAP CLSS effort into four time periods: (1) a phase-in period; (2) an elective early operational readiness (EOR) period; (3) an operational readiness base option period; and (4) an operational readiness option period. A proposed EOR period would end on the same date as the phase-in period, 180 days after contract award. The RFP advised that proposing an EOR period within the phase-in plan may reduce the risk of timely meeting the phase-in requirements.
The Source Selection Advisory Council (SSAC) conducted a comparative analysis of the proposals, and submitted a report to the SSA with a majority opinion recommending CWS2 for award, and dissenting opinion recommending ManTech. The opinions disagreed as to whether ManTech’s superiority on non-cost/price factors was worth the 3.5 percent price premium attributable to ManTech’s proposal. The SSA, after its own comparative assessment, concluded that ManTech offered several discriminators which collectively resulted in less risk in timely meeting the phase-in requirements within the 180 days. Combined with ManTech’s slight advantage due to receiving a higher number of excellent ratings by customers in response to past performance questionnaires, the SSA concluded that ManTech offered the more advantageous proposal.
The GAO held that the agency’s evaluation of the offerors’ proposals and source selection was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation. It found that the agency reasonably considered risks related to CSW2’s proposed 137-day schedule, finding such consideration reasonably related to the evaluation of the risk of meeting the overall 180-day schedule. The GAO disagreed that the SSEB’s low risk assessment on the 137-day schedule was internally inconsistent with the SSEB’s underlying evaluation, which found no risks to CSW2’s ability to meet the 180-day schedule. It pointed out several areas in which the SSEB had raised concerns, noting that a finding of confidence in CWS2’s ability to perform does not equate to no risk.
The GAO then addressed each of CSW2’s challenges to the discriminators which resulted in ManTech’s phase-in plan having less risk than CSW2’s plan for timely and credibly meeting the phase-in requirements. It found that CSW2’s contentions were merely disagreement with the SSA’s reasonable conclusion that ManTech’s CAC/LOA approach was more advantageous, because it demonstrated a superior understanding of the process by not only explaining its procedures but also setting forth a comprehensive plan and schedule. It found no evidence that the agency based its analysis upon information that was only available to ManTech as the incumbent. The GAO also found reasonable the agency’s evaluation of ManTech’s past performance, disagreeing that negative performance information for a proposed subcontractor of ManTech should have prevented ManTech’s past performance from being a discriminating factor. Finally, the GAO concluded that the agency’s best value determination and award to a higher-rated, higher-priced proposal was reasonable and well documented.
A disappointed offeror should always request a debriefing so as to better understand the agency’s evaluation and source selection decision, and to gain insight which may help the offeror improve their proposals in future procurements. The debriefing can also give valuable information that will help the offeror determine whether to protest the award. If an offeror decides to protest the award, they should carefully consider whether there are flaws in the procurement, or if they merely disagree with the agency’s evaluation. The fact that the evaluation team provides conflicting recommendations to the SSA is not grounds alone to sustain a protest, so long as the SSA makes a reasonable and well-documented decision consistent with the evaluation criteria.