Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
Agency properly issued delivery order under a General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedule contract for mattresses to vendor offering higher priced mattresses which the agency reasonably determined were so superior to the lower priced mattresses offered by the protester as to justify the associated cost premium.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Encompass argues that the agency improperly evaluated its proposed mattress and unreasonably placed the order for Sizemore’s higher priced mattress. GAO states that in the context of an RFQ, where an agency solicits FSS vendors’ responses and uses an evaluation approach similar to that used in FAR Part 15 negotiated procurements, GAO will review the agency’s actions to ensure that the evaluation of vendors’ submissions was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. A protester’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment or its belief that its quotation deserved a higher technical rating is not sufficient to establish that the agency acted unreasonably.
Encompass complains that the agency improperly evaluated its mattress’s perimeter firmness as “poor.” In evaluating the perimeter firmness of Encompass’s mattress the agency noted that there was “[n]o literature provided re [initial load deflection], and [the evaluators] ‘didn’t sense any firmness at [the] edge’” of the sample mattress provided. The agency noted that the firmness of the perimeter of the mattress was important because “[o]ur patient population is vulnerable to falls since many of them have mobility problems associated with aging or medical conditions such as spinal cord injuries. The perimeter firmness of the mattress is important in reducing the risk of patients slipping or falling since a firm mattress perimeter provides more stability as they enter and exit the beds.” Because Encompass failed to provide the required documentation to support this subfactor and the evaluators found that the perimeter of its proposed mattress appeared “mushy,” GAO has no reason to question the agency’s evaluation of this subfactor.
Encompass also complains that it should not have been downgraded because its proposed mattress lacked side handles. Encompass primary argument in support of this contention was that Sizewise’s mattress with handles was not listed on its FSS contract. However, the agency has provided evidence and Encompass now concedes that Sizewise’s proposed mattress is on its FSS contract. Given that Encompass did not unequivocally offer the side handles in its quotation notwithstanding the solicitation’s expressed preference for this feature, the agency could reasonably downgrade its proposal under this subfactor. The protest is denied.