Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Disposition: Protest denied.
1. Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of the realism of awardee’s proposed price is denied where record shows agency conducted well-documented price evaluation that was consistent with solicitation requirements.
2. Protest challenging evaluation of offerors’ technical proposals and past performance is denied where the record shows that agency’s evaluation was reasonable and supported by the record, or that there was no prejudice to the protester as a result of the alleged errors since, even if the offerors’ ratings were adjusted as protester argues they should be, protester’s proposal still would be rated no higher than the awardee’s lower-priced proposal.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
G4S first alleges that ICE failed to perform a proper price realism evaluation of BI’s price proposal, insofar as the awardee’s price was significantly below both the independent government estimate (IGE) and the prices of the other offerors. GAO states that where, as here, an RFP contemplates the award of a fixed-price contract, the agency generally is not required to analyze the “realism” of offerors’ proposed prices; this is because a fixed-price (as opposed to a cost-type) contract places the risk and responsibility for contract costs and ensuing profit or loss on the contractor. However, an agency may, as the agency did here, provide for the use of a price realism analysis for the limited purpose of assessing offerors’ understanding of the solicitation’s requirements or the risk inherent in offerors’ proposals. The nature and extent of a price realism analysis, as well as an assessment of potential risk associated with a proposed price, are generally within the sound exercise of the agency’s discretion. GAO’s review of such an evaluation is limited to determining whether it was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
GAO finds the agency’s price realism analysis of BI’s proposal to be unobjectionable. The record establishes that the agency performed various analyses regarding BI’s price realism and proposal risk. Specifically, the agency’s actions included an analysis of BI’s field office staffing ratios, BI’s use of different staffing ratios for different types of cases, and the comparison of BI’s staffing ratios to the current ISAP program staffing ratios, as well as the comparison of BI’s unit, CLIN, and overall prices to those of the other offerors. The agency reasonably concluded that BI’s staffing ratios, while higher than those of the other offerors and the current ISAP program were reasonable, and thus the corresponding prices were realistic. Although G4S raises a full range of arguments, its protest fails to demonstrate that any of the agency’s actions were inadequate or inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation or applicable statute or regulation. G4S essentially disagrees with the level of scrutiny applied by the agency to BI’s proposal. As discussed above, however, an agency has considerable discretion in determining the nature and extent of required price realism and proposal risk assessments in the context of fixed-price contracts. Based on our review of the record, we conclude that G4S’s various arguments challenging the agency’s analysis and judgments reflect G4S’s mere disagreement or dissatisfaction with the agency’s determinations, and provide no basis to sustain the protest.
G4S next challenges the agency’s evaluation of its proposal under the staffing plan subfactor. The agency rated G4S’s staffing plan as “good” based on three strengths and no weaknesses, and BI’s staffing plan as “good” based on four strengths and no weaknesses. GAO states that in reviewing an agency’s evaluation, it will not reevaluate technical proposals; instead, GAO will examine the agency’s evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria and procurement statutes and regulations. An offeror’s mere disagreement with the agency’s evaluation is not sufficient to render the evaluation unreasonable.
GAO finds the agency’s evaluation process unobjectionable, and G4S’s focus on a mathematical counting of the number of strengths entirely misplaced. The record reflects that the source selection authority (SSA) was clearly aware that G4S’s proposal exceeded both the project director experience and education requirements, and the mere fact that the SSA combined these two strengths into a single sentence within the source selection decision provides no basis on which to sustain the protest. Moreover, the protester has identified no prejudice as a result of the agency’s action here, as the SSA did not consider staffing plans to be a discriminator between the BI and G4S proposals, irrespective of the number of separately-listed strengths.
G4S challenges the agency’s evaluation of offerors’ past performance. The technical evaluation panel (TEP) evaluated BI’s past performance as “outstanding” based on five identified strengths and no weaknesses, and G4S’s past performance as “satisfactory” based on two identified strengths and three weaknesses and associated risks. As with many of its other challenges to the evaluation, the record shows that there was no prejudice to G4S arising from any alleged error in this area, that is, even if the protester prevailed on this protest ground as argued, the offerors both would receive past performance ratings of “good.” From the record GAO sees no reasonable possibility that the SSA would have selected G4S’s higher-priced proposal instead of BI’s (at least) equally-rated, lower-priced proposal. The protest is denied.