Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest that contracting agency unreasonably evaluated quotation as technically unacceptable is denied where the record shows that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Convergys argues that the agency unreasonably interpreted its quotation with respect to the 60-day transition requirement and, thus, improperly rejected it as technically unacceptable. The protester contends that its ramp completion date of November 24 should have been considered the end date of its transition period. In this regard, Convergys contends that the tasks set out in its phase-in plan that were to take place after the date of ramp completion, concluding with its Project Management Transition to Operations on December 3, should have been considered post-transition period activities. GAO states that a vendor has the burden of submitting an adequately written response to the solicitation. A proposal or quotation that fails to conform to material terms of the solicitation should be considered unacceptable. A review of the record here shows that the agency’s evaluation of the protester’s quotation was reasonable.
Vendors were to provide a detailed demonstration that their intended phase-in plans would be completed within 60 days of award; firms were specifically instructed that mere statements of a firm’s intent to comply with this requirement would be insufficient. A review of the record confirms the reasonableness of the agency’s evaluation of the protester’s quotation based on its interpretation that each one of the three detailed implementation timelines provided by Convergys shows a transition period lasting 70 days from award.
Each timeline stated that the project start and finish dates for the phase-in plan extended from September 24 to December 3, a period of 70 days, and each timeline listed tasks as transition activities (under each timeline’s subject heading for transition-related work) that extended until December 3, including project management transition to operations. While, as noted above, the quotation included general statements of the firm’s intent to comply, the quotation’s specific references clearly indicated that the protester’s intended phase-in plan would not comply with the RFQ’s material 60-day transition period requirement. Accordingly, given the conflicting information in the Convergys quotation, GAO sees no basis to question the agency’s evaluation of the quotation, or the resulting rejection of the quotation as technically unacceptable under the terms of the RFQ.
The protester also contends that under the terms of the RFQ here, it should have been allowed to clarify the quotation’s perceived failure to meet the 60-day transition requirement, since, according to Convergys, it was merely a minor irregularity or clerical mistake in its quotation. Given that any revisions to the quotation in this area would be for the purpose of making the quotation technically acceptable, GAO does not agree that the quotation’s failure unequivocally to meet the 60-day transition requirement is a minor irregularity or clerical error for which the RFQ provided clarifications would be conducted.
Convergys also argues that the agency conducted unequal evaluations and clarifications with Lockheed Martin. Specifically, Convergys suggests that unequal evaluations occurred in that Lockheed Martin’s quotation indicated that it planned to perform two transition tasks beyond the 60-day transition period; however, it is clear from the RFQ that the referenced tasks are required to be completed within a 90-day period (not a 60-day period as the protester alleges), and Lockheed Martin’s quotation complied with this requirement. Convergys further argues that since the agency engaged in clarifications with Lockheed Martin, it should have done the same with Convergys. The record shows that the agency allowed Lockheed Martin to clarify a minor pricing aspect of its quotation; under the terms of the RFQ here, this clearly fell within the provision regarding clarifications. In contrast, as discussed above, any opportunity to address the issues in the Convergys quotation regarding compliance with the 60-day transition plan requirement would not have constituted clarifications under the RFQ. Accordingly, there clearly is no support in the record for the protester’s contention that it and Lockheed Martin were treated differently in this regard under the terms of the RFQ. The protest is denied.