Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of awardee’s proposal and agency’s determination that awardee’s staffing is adequate to meet solicitation requirements is denied, where record shows that agency’s evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation factors and where under a fixed-price, performance-based contract, awardee assumes risk if its approach results in higher costs than anticipated.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
The protester essentially argues that the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s proposal was not in accordance with the factors set forth in the solicitation. Specifically, Exegistics contends that the awardee’s proposed staffing is inadequate to perform the requirement. Exegistics also questions how the agency could rate two proposals “excellent” under the technical/management evaluation factor when the proposals offer such significantly different staffing levels. GAO states that it reviews challenges to an agency’s evaluation of proposals only to determine whether the agency acted reasonably and in accord with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria and applicable procurement statutes and regulations. A protester’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment is not sufficient to establish that an agency acted unreasonably.
Based on a review of the record, GAO finds that it is clear that the agency evaluated the awardee’s proposal in accordance with the RFP evaluation criteria and reasonably concluded that the awardee demonstrated its ability and capacity to perform. With respect to the ability and capacity to perform evaluation subfactor, the agency concluded that the awardee demonstrated a clear understanding of the EDC needs based on its experience providing similar logistics support to the Western Distribution Center (WDC). The source selection evaluation board (SSEB) also noted that the awardee proposed a detailed Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP), which is an integral part of a performance-based acquisition. The agency also recognized the awardee’s commitment to having a floater pool trained and certified to handle workload fluctuations. In addition, the agency found value in the awardee’s matrix management approach for allowing both corporate personnel and resources to be used to enhance quality control. The record shows that notwithstanding the awardee’s proposed low staffing, the agency determined that the awardee had demonstrated its capability to perform. While Exegistics’ objections to the awardee’s evaluation reflect the protester’s disagreement with the agency’s assessments, they do not establish that the evaluation was unreasonable.
The protester also maintains that the source selection authority was required to use price and/or cost analysis techniques to evaluate these proposals to determine reasonableness and whether the offeror understood the work and had the ability to perform. GAO states that where, as here, a solicitation provides for award of a fixed-price contract, under which the government’s liability is fixed, and the contractor bears the risk and responsibility for the actual costs of performance, the agency is only required to evaluate an offeror’s price for fairness and reasonableness. It is well-established that price reasonableness in a fixed-price setting relates to whether a firm’s prices are too high, not too low.
Here, Exegistics has provided no basis to question the agency’s conclusion that the awardee’s price was reasonable simply because it was based on staffing levels that Exegistics alleges are insufficient. Even though Exegistics argues that the awardee will not be able to perform adequately at its price, the agency determined otherwise–i.e., the agency concluded that the awardee understood the requirement and could perform this fixed-price contract at its proposed price. The protest is denied.