Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: United States Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Size protest
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: The SBA’s decision in a size protest is binding on GAO in deciding protest allegations raised by a protester at GAO.
Pursuant to a request for proposals (RFP), the United States Army (Army) awarded a contract to Fidelity Technologies Corporation (Fidelity) and denied the award to DynaLantic Corporation (DynaLantic) for an MI-17 CT helicopter flight training device simulator (FTD).
The RFP, as a total small business set-aside, sought to award a fixed-price contract for the FTD based on a “best value” basis considering technical, management, past performance, and price, in descending order of importance. Seven proposals were received resulting in an award to Fidelity after the Army found that DynaLantic’s proposal had a lower management rating and a slightly higher price than Fidelity’s.
DynaLantic filed a protest with the Small Business Administration (SBA), challenging the small business size of Fidelity concurrently with this GAO bid protest. However, the SBA found that Fidelity qualified as a small business because, contrary to DynaLantic’s allegations, it held that Fidelity was the manufacturer of the MI-17 CT FTD it was furnishing. GAO held further that the SBA decision finding that Fidelity was the manufacturer for purposes of its status as a small business is binding on GAO because the SBA has conclusive authority to determine small business size status for federal procurements. Further, GAO stated that its review of the record provided no basis to question the SBA decision otherwise.
As to DynaLantic’s assertion that its proposal was evaluated unequally and unfairly when compared to Fidelity’s proposal because the Army assigned DynaLantic a weakness for the proposal’s plan to manufacture the FTD in the United States, GAO stated that the Army’s finding that DynaLantic had no previous experience manufacturing this particular FTD was indeed a weakness. But, GAO’s review of the record also showed that the evaluation team was correct in assigning a significant strength to Fidelity’s proposal where it had established a process to monitor and meet the delivery schedule, which increased the likelihood that the company would provide accurate simulation of the MI-17 CT aircraft. While GAO did state that Fidelity’s proposal may have a less desirable approach in one area than DynaLantic’s proposal, the record showed that Fidelity’s proposal had numerous other strengths that contributed to its outstanding rating. DynaLantic was correctly denied the contract since its technical proposal had fewer strengths, a more risky approach, and a higher price.