Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest sustained.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: When using simplified acquisition procedures, an agency must conduct the procurement consistent with a concern for fair and equitable competition and must evaluate quotations in accordance with the terms of the solicitation.
Douglas County Fire District #2 (DCFD) protests the issuance of a purchase order under a request for quotations (RFQ) issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), for ambulance services.
The RFQ was issued as a simplified commercial item acquisition under FAR Parts 12 and 13 and sought fixed-price quotations for ambulance services for the Roseburg VA Healthcare System for a base year with four one-year option periods. The statement of work (SOW) required the contractor to furnish all necessary personnel, vehicles, management, supplies, transportation, equipment, and reports to provide emergency and non-emergency ground ambulance services for eligible beneficiaries. Additionally, the SOW contained a specific geographic area to be serviced, including Roseburg VAMC, other areas in Oregon, and possibly including Northern California and Western Washington. The selection would be made on a best-value basis considering five factors, one of which was geographic coverage.
DCFD’s proposal received a “fail” rating for the geographic coverage factor, which was based on the evaluators’ findings that DCFD’s quotation provided no plan or supporting information regarding coverage of the geographic area set forth in the SOW. DCFD alleges that the VA unreasonably evaluated its quotation under the geographic coverage factor.
GAO states that when using simplified acquisition procedures, an agency must conduct the procurement consistent with a concern for fair and equitable competition and must evaluate quotations in accordance with the terms of the solicitation. GAO will examine the record to determine whether the agency met this standard and executed its discretion reasonably.
GAO concludes that the VA unreasonably evaluated DCFD’s quotation with a “fail” rating for the geographic coverage factor for lack of a plan to cover the area where the awardee’s quotation did not include any more specific information than the awardee’s quotation, which was assigned a “pass” rating. In order to assess a finding of “fail,” the agency was required to conclude that based on DCFD’s “qualifications and experience, extreme doubt exists that the offeror will successfully perform the required effort.” The agency provided no basis for a determination that “extreme doubt exists” that DCFD “could successfully perform the required effort,” particularly given that DCFD was the incumbent for these services and indicated in its quotation that has provided services to the named geographical areas in the past. The protest is sustained.