Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Disposition: Protests Denied.
The agency reasonably excluded the protesters’ proposals from the competitive range where the proposals failed to demonstrate, within the solicitation’s identified page limitations, that the protesters satisfied the solicitation’s technical understanding and capability requirements, and where the unacceptable offers were not among the most highly rated proposals
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Digicon Corporation and Intelligent Decisions, Inc. protested the exclusion of their proposals from the competitive range for the Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 3 (CIO-SP3) government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) for information technology solutions and services. The RFP informed offerors that they could form contractor team arrangements (CTA), but that the agency would not consider the experience of proposed subcontractors in evaluating the technical understanding and capability factor.
The GAO found the agency’s evaluation of Digicon’s technical capability reasonable, supporting the agency’s conclusion that references to the “Digicon Team” indicated performance by “Digicon Team” subcontractors, for which the offeror was not entitled to credit. The GAO disagreed with Digicon’s assertion that the RFP did not require examples of experience and/or qualifications, noting that the evaluation factors placed offerors on notice that failure to demonstrate experience could result in an evaluation finding of unacceptability. To the extent there was any ambiguity between the RFP’s preparation instructions and evaluation factors, it was a patent ambiguity that was apparent prior to the time set for receipt of quotations.
The GAO also concluded that the agency’s evaluation of Intelligent Decisions’ proposal was reasonable, noting that the ambiguity created by Intelligent Decisions use of the word “consultants,” in light of the solicitation provisions indicating that offerors could only be evaluated on their own experience, lead the agency to reasonably conclude that it was unclear what experience and qualifications Intelligent Decisions actually had in that subfactor. The GAO also rejected Intelligent Decisions’ claim that the evaluation failed to consider past performance experience appearing in other portions of its proposal. The GAO noted that the RFP provided strict page limitations for responses to each evaluation factor, and referring to other parts of its proposal would improperly increase the number of pages to address experience.
An offeror must pay close attention to an RFP’s requirements, making sure that all requested information is presented in the appropriate volume of the offeror’s proposal. Even if the offeror includes relevant information in another volume, failure to provide information in the location requested may result in the assessment of a weakness. In evaluating one portion of a proposal, the agency is not required to go looking for the requisite information elsewhere.