Link: GAO Decision
Agency: National Archives and Records Administration
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Agency’s evaluation of quotations and its selection of a lower-rated, lower-priced quotation for issuance of a task order, in a procurement where technical considerations were more important than price, were unobjectionable where the evaluation was reasonable, consistent with the solicitation’s terms, and supported by the record
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
General Dynamics Information Technology, Inc. (GDIT) protested the issuance to IBM Corporation of a task order to provide operations and maintenance support for the agency’s electronic records archive (ERA). GDIT contended that the agency failed to comply with the RFQ’s stated evaluation scheme, issued the order on the basis of a quotation that was technically unacceptable, and failed to consider one of the weaknesses assigned to IBM’s quotation.
The GAO first disagreed with GDIT’s allegation that IBM’s proposal was rendered technically unacceptable by virtue of its rating of marginal under the management plan evaluation factor, noting that, where the RFQ does not define an adjectival rating with great specificity, the agency has great discretion in its evaluation. It then denied the contention that the selection of IBM was improper because the source selection authority was not informed of a past performance weakness associated with IBM’s quote, finding reasonable the agency’s later determination that the initially noted weakness was not in fact a weakness. Finally, the GAO disagreed with GDIT’s argument that the agency’s selection of a lower-priced, lower-rated quotation ignored effectively converted the procurement to a lowest-price, technically acceptable procurement rather than the solicited “best value” procurement. It found that the agency had reasonably concluded that the price premium in selecting GDIT was not justified in light of the acceptable level of technical competence offered by IBM at a lower price.
Where award is to be made on a “best value” basis, offerors must remember that even when a solicitation indicates that technical merit will be emphasized over price, the offeror with the higher ratings on the technical evaluation factors may not prevail if the agency determines that the price premium is not justified. In this case, although GDIT offered numerous technical enhancements beneficial to the government, these enhancements were not essential to performance of the contract and were determined not to be worth the 10% premium in price. Although enhancements can increase the attractiveness of a proposal, offerors should be wary of adding enhancements that increase the price to such a level as to reduce its competitiveness.