Link: GAO Decision
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest that agency unreasonably and unequally evaluated proposals is denied where record reflects that evaluation was reasonable and consistent with solicitation’s evaluation criteria and that differences in offerors’ evaluation findings did not result from unequal treatment.
- Protest that discussions were misleading is denied where, notwithstanding agency representative’s remarks regarding measures that might mitigate significant weakness for protester’s approach of making requirements available for testing post-award, discussions transcript reflects that agency’s program manager clearly conveyed that if protester continued such approach in its final proposal revision, that approach would remain a significant weakness, and highest available proposal rating would be marginal.
- Protest challenging agency’s determination to award single indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract valued over $103 million is denied where record reflects reasonable basis for agency’s conclusion that only one offeror was qualified and capable of performing work at reasonable price.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
CW Government Travel, Inc., d/b/a CWTSatoTravel (CWT), protested the nonselection of its proposal for award under an RFP for government-wide electronic travel management service. The solicitation contemplated award of one or two ID/IQ contracts, using a two-phase source selection process. In Phase I, offers would be evaluated under seven factors. In Phase II, the most highly rated offerors would be invited to participate in an independent verification and validation (IV&V) evaluation, during which their proposed travel systems would be tested against the solicitation’s requirements. Based on test results, ratings would be assigned under an additional four evaluation factors, and the agency would then determine the proposal or proposals representing the best value based on their ratings from the two Phases.
The SSAC concluded that CWT was not capable of fulfilling the government’s requirements for two reasons. First, the SSAC found that CWT’s proposal did not meet the requirements in six general areas and contained numerous weaknesses, significant weaknesses, and a security-related deficiency. Second, CWT’s proposal did not meet 99 requirements because the company proposed to make the requirements available for IV&V testing after award. The SSAC also considered the risks and benefits of single versus dual awards and contrasted the offerors’ pricing under the single and dual award scenarios. Ultimately, the SSAC concluded that a single award based on Concur Technologies, Inc.’s alternative proposal was in the government’s best interests.
CWT first asserted that the deficiency and significant weaknesses assigned to its proposal were unreasonable and that the agency evaluated proposals in an unequal manner. The GAO found reasonable the assignment of a deficiency under the IV&V security factor, noting that CWT did not show that the solicitation permitted ETS2 system components that are outside the accreditation boundary to operate without a data recovery system, as CWT proposed. The GAO also denied CWT’s objections to the significant weakness for failing to offer the capability to produce reports that would provide government-wide data. The GAO disagreed with most instances of what CWT alleged was unequal treatment, pointing out that none of the capabilities Concur proposed to make available after award were to be tested during the IV&V evaluation. For the few allegations of unequal treatment to which the GAO did not believe the agency adequately responded, the GAO found that CWT did not suffer competitive prejudice.
CWT also argued that the agency engaged in misleading discussions with regard to how it would evaluate CWT’s approach of making numerous requirements available for IV&V testing post award. CWT argued that the agency indicated that some form of “consideration,” such as a price discount or concession, would “address” the agency’s concerns about CWT’s approach. In reviewing the record, the GAO disagreed and noted that CWT should have sought clarification from the agency. Finally, the GAO rejected CWT’s argument that the agency’s decision to make a single award was unreasonable. The agency properly executed a written determination and finding (D&F) that only one source (Concur) was qualified and capable of performing the work at a reasonable price. The GAO disagreed with CWT that a proposal with an overall rating of marginal necessarily reflects that an offeror is qualified and capable of performing the work; the agency had the discretion to determine that, notwithstanding the possibility that proposal issues could be corrected during performance, a marginal proposal reflects an offeror that, at the time of award, is not qualified and capable of performing the work.
Offerors currently performing predecessor contracts to the requirements being solicited should not rely on their incumbency to avoid the assignment of weaknesses for failure to meet all requirements at the time of award. Even if the predecessor contract does not expire for several months, giving the appearance of time to reach full operational capacity on the successor contract, performance on the successor contract may occur concurrently to allow for building of required interfaces and the complex process of transition. Offerors should do their best to provide an approach that is fully developed at the time of award to allow for as smooth a transition to the government as possible.