Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: CRAssociates, Inc.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Agency evaluation of proposals is unobjectionable where it is reasonable and consistent with solicitation evaluation criteria, and adequately documented.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
CRAssociates, Inc. (CRA) protested the award of a contract to Sterling Medical Associates, Inc. for the provision of primary and mental health services at the community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) in Rock Hill, North Carolina. CRA argued that Sterling’s proposal should not have been found acceptable, as it did not offer to provide a CBOC within 90 days of award, as required by the RFP. It also argued that Sterling did not have adequate physicians holding the necessary licenses, and that it was planning a “bait and switch” by advertising for new physicians who would perform on the contract yet weren’t included in Sterling’s proposal.
The GAO declined to reevaluate Sterling’s proposal, finding the agency’s evaluation of Sterling’s proposal as acceptable to be reasonable. It disagreed with CRA’s contention that, as the incumbent, CRA should have been viewed as superior to Sterling under the management/technical approach factor. The GAO also disregarded CRA’s “bait and switch” allegations, noting that Sterling’s recruitment activities following award were consistent with its proposal, as Sterling had indicated it would recruit backup candidates and contact incumbent personnel to see if any were available.
Incumbent contractors seeking award of a follow-on contract should not expect to receive higher ratings on evaluation factors simply due to their status as incumbents and their satisfactory performance on the current contract. Although incumbency allows for little to no transition from one contract period to another, non-incumbent offerors can receive favorable ratings on relevant evaluation factors by providing a good transition approach to seamlessly taking over performance. Offerors should not rely solely on their incumbency to provide a favorable proposal evaluation, but should also ensure that their proposal details how they intend to continue performance in more than a satisfactory manner.