Washington Business Journal by Lee Dougherty, Attorney, General Counsel PC
Date: Friday, April 6, 2012, 1:36pm EDT
Don’t count on second (or third) chances. Even as agencies request revisions, contractors should always submit their best offer to ensure they don’t get shut out by competition.
Protesting contractor: Omniplex World Services Corp., Chantilly
Contracting agency: Office of Personnel Management
Protest issue: Whether a contractor should have been able to offer a final proposal revision
GAO decision, March 14, 2012: Denied.
Post-mortem: In this case, OPM solicited offers for background investigation services estimated at a maximum of $2.5 billion over five years. As is typical of this type of solicitation, the government informed potential offerors that it would make the award on a best value basis where technical considerations were more important than price.
The early stages of the process seem to have gone as usual. Initial proposals were submitted and a competitive range was established, narrowing the competition down to four bidders. That said, OPM determined that all of the bids exceeded expectations, and instructed the competitors submit a “formal proposal revision” by a certain date that would ‘significantly lower the overall price of the proposal.” Omniplex, however, actually raised their price proposal by $571 million and was subsequently excluded due to their prices being “very high and outside of the reasonable range.” CACI Premiere of Chantilly, US Investigations Services LLC of Falls Church and KeyPoint Government Solutions Inc. of Loveland, Colo. Walked away with the contracts.
Omniplex’s protest was focused on their expectation that they would have a chance to engage in additional discussions and submit a best and final offer at some point after submitting their second price proposal. The Government Accountability Office showed that no such expectation is warranted.
This happens often: the government made changes to the solicitation, and chaos ensued. Without any means of predicting an agency’s handling of such competitions, bidders need to submit their best offer every time and hope they understand what the government’s requirements.