Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Data and Analytic Solutions, Inc.
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Disposition: Protest Denied.
In a negotiated procurement for the award of a cost reimbursement contract where offerors were provided a range of estimated monthly workloads and where offerors based their cost proposals upon differing workload assumptions, an agency reasonably normalized the cost proposals to the same workload estimate, where the anticipated workload was not dependent upon an offeror’s approach and would be same regardless of which offeror performed the contract.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Data and Analytic Solutions, Inc. (DAS) protested the award to Provider Resources, Inc. (PRI) of a contract for services relating to the evaluation of workers’ compensation Medicare set-aside arrangement proposals. The agency took corrective action in response to DAS’s initial protest, reconsidering its selection decision to ensure that proposals had been evaluated in accordance with the RFP. In its second protest, DAS challenged the agency’s cost realism analysis and past performance evaluation, and argued that the agency effectively made the award on a lowest-price, technically acceptable basis, rather than best value as provided in the RFP.
The GAO first rejected DAS’s complaints regarding cost realism analysis, finding that the agency’s upward adjustment of proposed costs to be a reasonable cost normalization. It then found that DAS was not prejudiced by the agency’s failure to consider the past performance of the incumbent and the incumbent’s subcontractors, although DAS proposed to acquire the incumbent and team with the current subcontractor as part of its offer. Finally, the GAO found without merit DAS’s argument that the agency was required to find DAS’s proposal technically superior to PRI’s based upon DAS’s 1.1% higher technical score.
When an award is to be made on a best value basis, offerors must remain aware of the fact that the agency still has discretion with regards to the manner and extent to which they will make use of evaluation results. Although one offer may be technically superior purely from a numerical rating standpoint, the source selection authority still has discretion to consider all the strengths and weaknesses of the offerors and make a qualitative comparison of the proposals.