Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protester’s challenge to agency’s decision not to fund protester’s proposal under phase I of a solicitation issued pursuant to the Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research program is denied where, consistent with the solicitation’s criteria, the agency reasonably determined that the protester’s proposal was ranked 18th of 20 proposals.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Glatz challenges the evaluation of its proposal, arguing that it was unreasonable and inconsistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. In addition, Glatz complains that the Army improperly conducted a “peer or scientific review” rather than a “best value” evaluation. GAO states that in reviewing protests against allegedly improper evaluations, it is not GAO’s role to reevaluate proposals. Rather, GAO examines the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable and in accord with the evaluation criteria. The protester’s disagreement with the agency’s judgment does not establish that an evaluation was unreasonable. Moreover, an agency is accorded considerable discretion to determine which proposals will be funded under an SBIR procurement.
The record here shows that the agency’s evaluation of Glatz’s proposal was consistent with the evaluation criteria and reasonable. Although Glatz disagrees with the agency’s evaluation judgments regarding its proposal, the protester does not show the agency’s judgment to be unreasonable concerning the merits of Glatz’s proposal. For example, Glatz disagrees with the agency’s evaluated concern under the first factor (soundness, technical merit, and innovation of the proposed approach) that Glatz’s proposed use of multiple solenoid-controlled linear brakes (SCLB) increased complexity and weight, and reduced reliability. Although Glatz now argues that the “extra” SCLBs were redundant components that could be removed during phase II if the Army did not want them, this does not appear consistent with its proposal. Rather, its proposal states that the use of multiple SCLBs is a result of the need to “scale” the original SCLB for use on a crashworthy seat, and “[s]ince there aren’t solenoids large enough to use just one,” it is necessary to use multiple units.
As another example, Glatz objects to the agency’s judgment under the third factor (potential for commercial application) that Glatz did not present any evidence of potential partners for manufacturing and that Glatz’s proposed commercialization strategy lacked specific details about bringing a product developed under this topic to market. Glatz contends that its proposal showed that the firm had successfully demonstrated a “supply-chain” approach which “explicitly identifies manufacturing,” and argues that this is “evidence of potential partners.” In support of this contention, Glatz refers to a Company Commercialization Report in its proposal. This report indicates, however, that the firm received no phase-II awards and does not demonstrate a commercialization track record.
Glatz also contends that the agency failed to evaluate which proposals reflected the best value to the agency, complaining that the agency failed to compare the competing proposals against each other. The Army evaluated the merits of each proposal in accordance with the solicitation’s evaluation scheme, assigning point scores (supported by narrative discussions) under each evaluation factor. Based upon the assigned point scores, and assessed strengths and weaknesses, two proposals were selected for further review under tier two and one was ultimately selected to receive funding. This was wholly consistent with the evaluation criteria stated in the solicitation for determining which SBIR proposal or proposals would be selected for funding. The protest is denied.