Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest against issuance of task order is denied where the agency record of its evaluation of quotations was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation, and the contracting officer appropriately documented the evaluation and best value tradeoff consistent with the requirements applicable in the selection of a Federal Supply Schedule contractor.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Delta’s arguments are: (1) that the GSA improperly downgraded its quotation for lacking detail; (2) that the GSA had misevaluated its quotation in numerous respects; (3) that the GSA failed to recognize the firm’s experience in operation and maintenance both of data centers and of laboratories, and its experience working under LEED requirements; (4) that the GSA unreasonably rated the firm’s staffing plan as marginal; (5) that the GSA unreasonably downgraded the firm for failing to address pest control, landscape, or snow removal, and for similarly neglecting green cleaning requirements; (6) that the record did not support its rating of adequate under the past performance factor; and (7) that the tradeoff rationale was unreasonable, and that the evaluation of the awardee was unsupported. GAO states that for procurements conducted pursuant to FAR subpart 8.4 that require a statement of work, such as this one, FAR § 8.405-2(e) designates limited documentation requirements. In a FAR subpart 8.4 procurement, an agency’s evaluation judgments must be documented in sufficient detail to show that they are reasonable.
The contemporaneous record confirms that the GSA’s evaluation of Delta was reasonable and consistent with the RFQ. Although Delta argues that the technical review report prepared by the evaluators–when considered by itself–does not provide a reasoned explanation for each of the adjectival ratings, this argument does not provide a basis to sustain the protest. Delta’s argument ignores the more thorough analysis documented in the contracting officer’s notes and source selection decision, which identified specific strengths and weaknesses for both the awardee and Delta that were derived from the contracting officer’s discussion with the evaluators and independent review of the quotations. In short, the contemporaneous record adequately documents a reasonable basis for the contracting officer’s decision to select the awardee over Delta.
Additionally, GAO finds no basis to question the GSA’s evaluation of Delta’s past performance as merely adequate. GAO states that an agency’s evaluation of past performance is a matter of agency discretion which we will not disturb unless the agency’s assessments are unreasonable. Delta’s references were generally positive, but as reflected in the contemporaneous record, they offered only limited endorsements of the firm’s work. Notwithstanding Delta’s arguments, based on its own highly favorable opinion of its past performance, Delta has not demonstrated that the GSA’s evaluation, based on the contemporaneous record, was unreasonable.
Delta also argues that its incumbency undermines the GSA’s criticisms of its quotation for failing to demonstrate experience and ability to perform the required services. In this regard, an incumbent contractor such as Delta is not excused for writing an unclear or inadequately-detailed technical quotation by arguing that the procuring agency’s knowledge of the incumbent’s performance should serve as a substitute for information missing from the quotation. In sum, the record reflects that the GSA reasonably evaluated Delta’s quotation, and met the requirements set forth in FAR § 8.405-2(e) for documenting its judgments and rationale. In particular, the contracting officer’s documentation of specific strengths and weaknesses that formed the basis for the best value judgments, and her measured tradeoff between the awardee’s better evaluation and Delta’s lower price adequately documents the basis for the source selection as required for placement of an order under the FSS program. The protest is denied.