Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Competitive range; source selection plan
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: A poorly written protest that fails to properly argue the facts and law will not be sustained where the record indicates the agency’s action were reasonable.
GAO denies the protest of Globecomm Systems, Inc. where its proposal was eliminated from the competitive range by the General Services Administration (GSA) under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by GSA for worldwide commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) end-to-end solutions.
Globecomm specifically asserts that its proposal fully met the evaluation criteria and should have received ratings that were higher than unacceptable under both the technical/management evaluation factor and the corporate experience evaluation factor. GAO states that it will review an agency’s evaluation and exclusion of a proposal from the competitive range for reasonableness and consistency with the solicitation criteria and applicable statutes and regulations. Contracting agencies are not required to retain proposals in the competitive range that are not among the most highly rated or that the agency otherwise reasonably concludes have no realistic prospect of being selected for award. Further, the evaluation of proposals is a matter within the discretion of the contracting agency, since the agency is responsible for defining its needs and the best method of accommodating them. In reviewing an agency’s evaluation, GAO will not reevaluate proposals, but instead will examine the agency’s evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria and with procurement statutes and regulations. Finally, it is the offeror’s responsibility to submit a well-written proposal, with adequately detailed information to demonstrate compliance with the solicitation requirements, and an offeror’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment concerning the adequacy of the proposal is not sufficient to establish that the agency acted unreasonably.
First, based on GAO’s review of the record, GAO finds nothing unreasonable in the agency’s determination that Globecomm’s proposal failed to demonstrate an adequate understanding of the importance of the RFP’s requirement regarding timely delivery where the proposal failed to provide a detailed delivery schedule and simply asserted that Globecomm was committed to timely delivery. Although the protester maintains that, even if the solicitation reasonably contemplated more detailed scheduling information, the proposal’s deficiency in this regard should not be considered a significant weakness, it fails to meaningfully dispute or otherwise show to be unreasonable the agency’s analysis of the specific weaknesses in its proposal regarding the delivery requirement; accordingly, Globecomm’s assertions constitute mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment. On the record here, GAO does not question the agency’s determination that Globecomm’s proposal failed to meaningfully comply with the solicitation’s scheduling and delivery requirements.
Next, nothing in Globecomm’s protest nor its comments refute, and in most instances fail to even address why Globecomm believes the agency’s evaluation of its corporate experience was unreasonable. In pursuing this protest, Globecomm has copied portions of its proposal, yet provided virtually no supporting explanation as to why the various copied portions of its proposal render the agency’s criticisms invalid. Based on the record presented, GAO again finds no basis to question the agency’s evaluation of Globecomm’s proposal as unacceptable with regard to the corporate experience factor.
Globecomm also contends that the agency improperly used a predetermined cutoff score to establish the competitive range based on whether or not an offeror has one or more significant weaknesses for the technical/management evaluation factor. The record fails to support the protester’s argument in this regard. The record shows that all eight of the offerors eliminated from the competitive range were rated unacceptable under both the technical/management factor and the corporate experience factor. The record does not indicate that there was a predetermined cutoff based on the number of weaknesses for the technical/management evaluation factor.
Similarly, the protester asserts that the agency failed to consider all of the evaluation factors in making the competitive range decision. However, the record shows that the competitive range consisted of other offerors. Globecomm and seven other offerors were eliminated based on their ratings of unacceptable for both the technical/management and corporate experience evaluation factors. The record indicates that the agency conducted a detailed evaluation of all offerors under all evaluation factors, including price, to make the competitive range determination. On this record, Globecomm’s assertion that the agency failed to consider all of the evaluation factors is without merit.
Finally, Globecomm argues that the agency failed to comply with the source selection plan when determining the competitive range. An agency’s source selection plan is an internal guide that does not give rights to parties; it is the RFP’s evaluation scheme, not internal agency documents such as source selection plans, to which an agency is required to adhere in evaluating proposals. The protest is denied.