Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging agency’s evaluation and rejection of proposal as technically unacceptable is denied where the record reflects that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Freedom Systems challenges the various weaknesses and deficiencies identified by the agency and the agency’s selection decision. GAO states that as a general matter, when reviewing a protest against the propriety of an evaluation, it is not GAO’s function to independently evaluate proposals and substitute its judgment for that of the contracting activity. Rather, GAO will review an evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the evaluation criteria in the solicitation and applicable procurement statutes and regulations; a protester’s mere disagreement with the evaluation does not show it lacked a reasonable basis.
Here, the RFP expressly required technical submissions from each offeror demonstrating the firm’s capability and the merits of its proposed approach to meet the agency’s requirements. Contrary to the protester’s suggestion that the RFP did not provide for rejection of a proposal where it failed to meet a stated element of the mission capability evaluation factor, the RFP clearly established that a firm’s failure to submit required documentation, such as sample menus and inspection reports, could result in rejection of the proposal as technically unacceptable. Thus, the agency’s conclusion that the protester’s failure to provide required breakfast menu information was a material deficiency, which rendered its proposal unacceptable, was consistent with the terms of the RFP.
Similarly, the record reflects that the agency evaluators assigned the protester a deficiency because the protester’s technical proposal did not include the inspection reports and other certifications required by the RFP. The protester challenges this finding arguing that its “original” proposal submission contained the missing documentation. GAO’s review of the record, however, confirms the agency’s report that none of the firm’s technical proposal copies included the required documentation. The RFP required offerors to provide four “complete” copies of their technical proposals for evaluation and to include the inspection reports and required documentation in “each copy” of their technical proposals. Given that the protester failed to follow the solicitation’s instructions regarding the submission of complete copies of its technical proposal, and that the agency relied on the incomplete copies to perform its evaluation, GAO has no basis to conclude that the agency acted unreasonably in not noticing the protester’s error. The protest is denied.