Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of State
Disposition: Protest sustained in part, denied in part.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO sustained in part and denied in part the protest of Exelis Systems Corporation, based on the award of a contract to PAE Government Services, Inc., under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of State (DOS) for operations and maintenance support services (OMSS) for agency facilities in Iraq, including the Baghdad Embassy Compound (BEC).
The RFP sought proposals for an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) with a one-year base period and up to four one-year option periods. PAE was the incumbent contractor. The factors to be considered included: (1) overall approach to ID/IQ and program management; (2) sample task order proposals for the BEC requirements; (3) technical proficiency; (4) task order proposal for program management office (PMO) requirements; and (5) past performance and experience. The BEC requirements included staffing plans, key personnel, operations and management plans, sample quality control plans, and preliminary transition plans. The PMO requirements also contained three subfactors similar to the BEC requirements, including key personnel, sample program management and cost control plans.
Exelis’ first challenge concerned the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s proposed staffing plans. Specifically, Exelis argued that the agency failed to consider that over the five-year contract period, PAE proposed to increase the proportion of LNs versus ANs and TCNs, and reduce its total number of staff, resulting in a significant decrease in PAE’s total level of effort. GAO first noted that just because PAE proposed staffing that was different from Exelis’, this alone will not render their staffing inadequate. Rather, the inquiry should be whether PAE’s proposed staffing was adequate to perform the sample task requirements. GAO found that PAE significantly reduced the level of effort it proposed to perform in the later years of the contract when compared to that of the first year. Therefore, PAE was proposing to perform the requirements throughout the five-year period, but with a lower level of effort in the four preceding years and did not give an explanation as to how it would meet the contract requirements. Because the evaluation record was silent as to how the agency’s evaluation in this case was reasonable, GAO sustained this portion of the protest.
Exelis next argued that the agency’s evaluation of past performance was unreasonable where the agency failed to consider three DOS Office of the Inspector General (IG) reports relating to PAE’s performance. However, GAO found that the agency was aware of the reports, held a meeting in which they were discussed, and all references to PAE’s past performance in the reports were good to excellent. Therefore, the agency acted reasonably in finding that the reports should not have a negative impact on PAE’s past performance rating.