Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Exelis Systems Corporation
Agency: Department of State
Disposition: Protest Sustained.
- Protest challenging the evaluation of offerors’ proposed staffing is sustained where the agency did not reasonably evaluate the offerors’ proposals in accordance with solicitation’s staffing plan subfactor.
- Protest challenging the agency’s assignment of weaknesses to the protester’s proposal based on the protester’s lack of direct contracting experience with the procuring agency is sustained where the evaluation was unreasonable and was not reasonably related to the solicitation’s evaluation scheme.
- Protest that agency identified strengths in the awardee’s proposal, but unreasonably failed to recognize similar strengths to the protester’s proposal is sustained where the agency did not provide meaningful explanation as to why it did not treat the offerors equally.
- Protest that agency failed to consider three inspector general reports in evaluating the awardee’s past performance is denied where the agency evaluators were unaware of two of the reports–neither of which was “too close at hand” to ignore–and where the other report had not been issued at the time of award, and the contracting officer disagreed with the preliminary findings that would later be reported.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Exelis Systems Corporation protested the award to PAE Government Services, Inc. of a contract for operations and management support services (OMSS) for agency facilities in Iraq, including the Baghdad Embassy Compound (BEC). The RFP sought to award a single ID/IQ, with the two initial task orders being for: (1) the BEC OMSS requirements; and (2) the establishment and operation of a program management office (PMO), for the management of the ID/IQ and task orders. Award would be made on a best value basis, considering price and five non-price factors, two of which had several subfactors; the RFP did not indicate how subfactors would be weighted. Although PAE offered the third lowest price, it was selected for award based on its added technical benefit and reduced performance risk.
The GAO first sustained Exelis’s protest of the evaluation of proposals under the staffing plan subfactor of the BEC sample task order proposal factor, agreeing that it was unreasonable for the agency to ignore relevant facts concerning PAE’s proposed use of higher numbers of local nationals (LNs). The agency’s evaluation had only considered the overall number of FTEs proposed by each offeror, which failed to account for the fewer productive hours per week associated with the high level of LNs, who were limited to 40-hour work weeks as compared to 60-hour work weeks for US citizens and third-country nationals (TCNs). The GAO identified three reasons why the record showed that the agency was aware of the differences between the offerors’ proposed use of LNs but unreasonably ignored those concerns, including, for example, failing to consider the difference between the work performed by LNs and TCNs and their respective initial skill levels.