Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Selection of a higher-rated, higher-priced proposal was reasonable where agency found that the awardee’s outstanding technical and staffing approach outweighed the protester’s lower price.
- Protest alleging that agency held unequal discussions is denied where the discussions were tailored to address different concerns associated with each firm’s proposal.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
General Dynamics Information Technology, Inc. (GDIT) protested the issuance of a task order to NCI Information Systems, Inc. for Network Enterprise Center information technology support services. After completing an initial evaluation of proposals, the agency conducted two rounds of discussions. The selection authority (SA) ultimately selected NCI, finding that the non-cost benefits associated with NCI’s superior rated Technical and Staffing Approaches were worth the additional price. GDIT argued that the award decision was conclusory and unsupported, and that the agency’s discussions were insufficient or unequal.
The GAO found that the SA’s award decision was properly documented, and included the rationale for the tradeoff decision, such as the benefits associated with NCI’s higher-priced proposal. The GAO pointed out that the SA highlighted particular strengths of each offeror as supporting their respective ratings under each factor. The GAO did not agree that the agency acted more favorably toward NCI in discussions by advising NCI that its price appeared high, noting that discussions must be tailored to each offeror’s proposal.
Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing to better understand the rationale behind the agency’s source selection decision. While the agency is not required to document every single aspect of their evaluations, there must still be adequate documentation to support their decisions. While merely disagreeing with the agency’s award decision is insufficient to sustain a protest, if there is not adequate support for that decision, the disappointed offeror may have grounds for a protest.