Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: technical evaluation; GSA FSS Procurement
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In a competitive FSS procurement, it is the vendor’s burden to submit a quotation that is adequately written and establishes the merits of the quotation.
CMI Management, Inc. protests the issuance of a task order under a request for quotations (RFQ), issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for facilities maintenance services.
The RFQ, issued on the General Service Administration’s (GSA) e-Buy website, provided for the issuance of a task order for various services for FTC’s facilities. Competition was limited to vendors holding Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts under schedule 03FAC. Vendors were informed that quotations would be evaluated under the following three factors, technical, past performance, and price. The RFQ included a detailed statement of work (SOW) requiring the vendor to provide certain key personnel, maintenance and repair of specified equipment, pest control, flag services, and various other duties. Vendors were instructed to submit a technical narrative describing how they would satisfy the SOW and to provide past performance information. Vendors were also informed that the required services must meet certain quality standards and the work performed “shall be of the highest quality and in keeping with the best practices of the industry.” The RFQ also advised vendors that “[o]nly the required minimum amount of information is requested. Efforts should be made to keep offers as brief as possible, concentrating on substantive information essential for proper evaluation.”
CMI’s proposal received poor ratings under the quality control and contingency resources factors. Among other things, the evaluators were concerned that CMI had not specifically addressed the SOW. In this regard, both evaluators noted that CMI did not specifically mention or address quality control. CMI argues that the RFQ did not request a quality control plan or inform vendors that quality control or assurance would be evaluated. CMI also argues that the RFQ directed vendors to keep their quotations as brief as possible, but the agency assigned higher ratings to vendors who submitted detailed technical plans.
GAO states that where, as here, an agency issues an RFQ to FSS contractors under FAR subpart 8.4 and conducts a competition, it will review the record to ensure that the agency’s evaluation is reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation. In reviewing a protest challenging an agency’s technical evaluation, GAO will not reevaluate the quotations; rather, it will examine the record to determine whether the agency’s evaluation conclusions were reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable procurement laws and regulations.
CMI has not shown that the agency’s evaluation of its quotation was unreasonable or inconsistent with the terms of the RFQ. Although CMI complains that the RFQ did not identify quality control as an evaluation factor, GAO finds that the agency’s evaluation of the vendors’ description of how they would satisfy the SOW’s quality standards was reasonably encompassed by the RFQ’s technical evaluation factor. The solicitation’s SOW provided quality standards that the vendor would be required to satisfy, and the RFQ instructed vendors to describe how they would satisfy all SOW requirements. GAO finds that the solicitation adequately informed vendors that the agency’s technical evaluation would assess the vendors’ description of how they would perform the SOW requirements, including the quality standards. The record shows that, although CMI’s quotation referenced some of the SOW requirements, it failed to address a number of SOW requirements, including the quality standards requirements.
GAO also disagrees with CMI’s belief that it was not required to address all of the SOW requirements, because the solicitation asked vendors to be as brief as possible. Although the RFQ asked vendors to submit concise narratives, it also specifically instructed them to describe how they would “completely” satisfy the SOW requirements. In a competitive FSS procurement, it is the vendor’s burden to submit a quotation that is adequately written and establishes the merits of the quotation. Additionally, GAO has found that in the context of a FAR subpart 8.4 procurement, an agency’s evaluation judgments must be documented in sufficient detail to show that they are reasonable. Here, the contemporaneous record includes evaluator rating sheets, identifying the various vendors’ strengths and weaknesses; a detailed price comparison of quotations by contract line item; and the award recommendation. GAO finds that the documentation in the record satisfies the minimum documentation requirements of FAR § 8.405 2(e) and provides sufficient detail to show that the FTC’s evaluation and selection judgments are reasonable. The protest is denied.