Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: General Dynamics, American Overseas Marine
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Agency properly did not evaluate fixed-price proposals for price realism where the solicitation did not provide for such an evaluation.
- Agency properly did not consider in its price evaluation the protester’s proposed cost savings with regard to certain items and services where the solicitation did not request any price or cost information regarding these items and did not include any terms providing for the evaluation of these costs.
- Agency properly considered the availability of certain of the awardee’s parent company’s resources where there was no provision in the solicitation that precluded offerors from relying on the resources of the corporate parent in performing the contract, and the awardee’s proposal represented through its reference to the parent company’s resources that the resources would be committed to the contract.
- The agency’s selection of a slightly lower-rated, lower-priced proposal for award of a contract for the operation and maintenance of certain ships is unobjectionable where the evaluation and source selection were adequately documented, consistent with the terms of the solicitation, and reasonably based
General Counsel PC Highlight:
General Dynamics, American Overseas Marine (AMSEA) protested the award to Maersk Line, Limited (MML) of a contract for the maintenance and operation of up to 11 maritime prepositioning force ships. The solicitation divided the ships into five contract lots on the basis of ship class, and indicated that each lot would be evaluated and awarded separately. The agency received proposals from 12 offerors with seven proposals being received for Lot 4, the Lot in question in the present protest. Various offerors protested the awards in Lots 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the agency took corrective action, accepting revised proposals. Although AMSEA received the highest technical rating for Lot 4, MML was awarded the contract as presenting the best value to the government.
The GAO found AMSEA’s arguments that the agency failed to recognize that MML’s prices were underrated and improperly ignored the technical risks associated with accepting such a low offer to be without merit. It disagreed with AMSEA’s claim that the contracting officer’s statement that he felt “confident that all offerors proposed prices reflect their understanding of the requirement and reflect their intended prices,” indicated that the agency performed a price realism analysis inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation. The GAO also found the agency’s past performance evaluation to be reasonable, pointing out that, although the agency gave the same rating of “very good” to both AMSEA and MML, the agency did note that MML had not been as consistently rated as AMSEA.
The GAO then rejected the claim that no other offeror could possibly achieve technical equivalency to AMSEA as the incumbent Lot 4 contractor. The GAO pointed out that the agency repeatedly evaluated AMSEA as “exceptional” due to its unique experience managing Lot 4 ships, but that MML received strengths on certain sections based on the detail it provided, where AMSEA did not go into as much detail. It also found reasonable the agency’s determinations and consideration of the MML’s (and AMSEA’s) parent companies’ resources in the evaluation of technical proposals. Finally, the GAO rejected AMSEA’s overall objection to the source selection decision, noting that the agency does not need to extensively document every consideration factored into a tradeoff decision.
In awards made on a best-value basis, offerors must remember that an agency may select a lower-rated, lower-priced proposal if it is in the best interests of the government. So long as the agency makes a rational decision consistent with the evaluation criteria, disappointed offerors will be unsuccessful should they elect to protest the selection. Although an incumbent may provide numerous strengths in its proposals, the agency may still properly award a lower-rated proposal if it offers the best value.