Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protests denied.
Keywords: RFP Requirements
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Where a dispute exists as to the actual meaning of a solicitation requirement, GAO resolves the issue by reading the solicitation as a whole. To be reasonable, an interpretation must be consistent with the solicitation when read as a whole and in a manner that gives effect to all provisions of the solicitation.
Falcon Environmental Services, Inc. protests the award of a contract to Birdstrike Control Program, of Willis, Texas, under a request for proposals issued by the Department of the Air Force. The RFP was issued as a commercial item acquisition set aside for small business concerns. The solicitation sought proposals for wildlife control services at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL), New Jersey, to prevent animal-aircraft collisions.
Offerors were informed that the agency would more favorably rate past performance where the offeror used a number of the PWS wildlife control methods, as opposed to past performance using a single control method. The RFP stated that the contract would be awarded to the lowest-priced, responsible offeror whose past performance received a substantial confidence rating.
The Air Force received proposals from four offerors, including Birdstrike and Falcon. Falcon, the incumbent contractor, provided a detailed technical proposal that stated that falconry was its primary method of bird control, that firearms primarily would be used to aid in controlling gull and deer problems, and that firearms would be used only “if extreme control methods are warranted.” Birdstrike did not submit a technical proposal but provided a descriptive “client guide,” which generally described the firm’s offered services. The client guide stated that Birdstrike used border collie dogs and falconry as its primary method of wildlife control, but that other methods were “employed as necessary, [including thermal imaging] systems, pyrotechnics, remote-control vehicles, traps, lasers, etc.”
Birdstrike proposed a price of $934,920 and Falcon proposed $2,139,990. The contracting officer performed a competitive range determination and included only Falcon and Birdstrike in the competitive range. In discussions, the two firms were informed of their overall past performance ratings, asked to verify their prices, and invited to submit revised proposals. Neither firm submitted a revised price proposal.
Falcon contended that the RFP requires the use of depredation (killing of wildlife by firearms) as a wildlife control method and that Birdstrike will not satisfy this requirement because it does not provide depredation services. The GAO disagreed, finding that the solicitation, read as a whole, reasonably informed offerors that the contractor would be allowed to choose the appropriate method to control wildlife. According to the GAO, the record shows that the Air Force reasonably assigned overall substantial confidence ratings to both Birdstrike’s and Falcon’s past performance. The record also shows that, in accordance with the RFP, award was made to Birdstrike, as the firm submitting the lowest-priced proposal that had received a substantial confidence past performance rating. Protest is denied.