Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Environmental Restoration, LLC
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest of an agency’s technical and price evaluations and source selection decision is denied where the agency reasonably evaluated proposals consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Environmental Restoration, LLC (ER), protested the award to Environmental Quality Management, Inc. (EQM) of a contract for emergency and rapid response services (ERRS). Award was to be made on a best value basis, considering price, technical, and past performance factors. The technical factor was slightly more important than price and past performance combined, which were of equal value. In addition to proposing fixed hourly and overtime rates for 10 CLINs for specified labor categories, as well as fixed daily and weekly rates for CLINs for various types of equipment, offerors were also required to complete a hypothetical pricing scenario for cost/price evaluation purposes.
The GAO found that the agency had given ample consideration to the qualitative differences between offerors’ proposals. Contrary to the protestor’s assertions, the record reflected that the agency devoted considerable more analysis to the evaluation of proposals under the technical ability subfactor than under the other technical subfactors, consistent with the relative importance of the subfactor as stated in the RFP. ER then challenged the price evaluation, arguing that the agency did not evaluate or compare CLIN prices, but only relied on the pricing scenario to conclude that EQM submitted the lowest-price offer. The GAO noted that the RFP indicated that the agency would consider the pricing scenario in its evaluation, and found that the record indicated a thorough and detailed price evaluation.
Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing to better understand the evaluation of their proposal, as well as the rationale behind the agency’s source selection decision. When deciding whether to pursue a bid protest, disappointed offerors should carefully consider whether they merely disagree with the agency’s award decision, or whether there appear to be improprieties in the procurement that support pursuing a protest. The GAO will generally reject arguments objecting to the evaluation of proposals so long as the agency has adequately documented its conclusions and those conclusions are reasonable in light of the stated evaluation criteria.