Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc.
Agency: United States Marine Corps
Disposition: Protest Denied.
An agency properly rejected the protester’s proposal where the agency reasonably found that the proposal did not satisfy a material solicitation requirement.
General Counsel PC:
General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc. protested the award to iGov Technologies, Inc. of a contract for hardware modernization of its Combat Operations Center. Award was to be made on a best value basis considering price and, in descending order of importance, technical, program management, and past performance. Offers would be evaluated at the subfactor level, and any proposal receiving a less than acceptable rating would be deemed technically unacceptable. iGov was the only offeror deemed technically acceptable, with General Dynamic’s FPR receiving two deficiencies and multiple weaknesses (referred to as “does not clearly meet requirements” or DNCMR).
Although General Dynamics challenged every deficiency and DNCMR, the GAO found reasonable the agency’s determination that General Dynamics’ proposal was unacceptable for its failure to propose a generator which met specification 8.04 and thus declined to consider the remaining arguments. Specification 8.04 required that the generators used to power the combat operations center systems must operate at no more than 90 percent of their rated maximum load, while operating all proposed equipment at a steady state. General Dynamics proposed to use existing generators that currently have a rated maximum load of 20,000 watts, while proposing equipment with a steady-state power consumption of between 20,252 and 20,453 watts. The GAO found reasonable the agency’s conclusion that the protestor’s proposal to increase the rated maximum load of the existing generators did not satisfy specification 8.04.
General Dynamics also argued that the agency placed undue emphasis on meeting the common hardware baseline objective at the expense of low cost, and did not convey that emphasis in the solicitation. The GAO pointed out, however, that General Dynamics was not competitively prejudiced even if it was mislead as to the weight a common hardware baseline would receive. It noted that General Dynamics did not contend that, although it would have submitted a “fundamentally different proposal” had it known of the importance of achieving a common hardware baseline, it would have submitted a proposal which satisfied specification 8.04. The GAO also disagreed that the agency had treated the offerors disparately, given the differences in the DNCMRs issued to the parties under the same subfactors.
Where a solicitation provides detailed technical specifications that offerors are required to satisfy, offerors should propose a solution that on its face satisfies the requirement. Although General Dynamics proposed to retest and rerate the existing generators to increase the maximum load, the agency found that the report cited by General Dynamics in support of its proposal to rerate the generators was insufficient to show that General Dynamics’ proposal as is satisfied specification 8.04. Although proposing unique or alternative solutions to the government’s needs may make an offeror a more attractive candidate for award, offerors should focus first on ensuring that their proposal fulfills all mandatory requirements in the solicitation.