Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging evaluation of protester’s technical proposal as unacceptable is denied where record demonstrates agency reasonably concluded that protester’s offered small business subcontracting plan did not meet the solicitation’s subcontracting requirements or provide sufficient rationale supporting its lower goals; protester’s arguments amount to mere disagreement with agency’s conclusions.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Granite argues that the agency’s conclusion that its subcontracting plan warranted an unacceptable rating was improper. Specifically, while acknowledging that its proposed subcontracting goals did not meet the stated solicitation requirements, Granite maintains that its proposal adequately explained its efforts to subcontract with qualified small business subcontractors. GAO states that it reviews challenges to an agency’s evaluation of proposals only to determine whether the agency acted reasonably and in accord with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria and applicable procurement statutes and regulations. A protester’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment is not sufficient to establish that an agency acted unreasonably. In response to the protest, the agency provided the detailed record of its evaluation and selection decision and our review confirms that the agency reasonably determined Granite’s proposal to be technically unacceptable.
The dispute between the protester and the agency arises over the method used to calculate an offeror’s compliance with the solicitation’s small business subcontracting goals. Simply put, the solicitation established goals for various types of small businesses, which were stated in terms of a percentage of total subcontracted dollars. In calculating compliance with the stated goals, Granite first subtracts the value of its major electrical subcontractor, which is a large business, and then calculates its compliance with the solicitation’s goals. In contrast, the agency includes the value of this significant subcontract, and calculates the goals using the larger total. Granite’s approach of deducting the value of the work to be provided by its large business electrical subcontractor before calculating its compliance with the RFP goals using the much smaller resulting number, means that Granite erred in two ways. First, its claimed percentages of the amount of total subcontracted dollars going to the various categories of small businesses were significantly overstated because they are not based on the total amount of Granite’s subcontracting dollars. In addition, because Granite overstated the resulting percentages, it failed to take the opportunity to explain why it could not meet the solicitation-required minimums. Finally, even if the agency wanted to accept Granite’s representation about why it could not meet the solicitation’s overall small business subcontracting goal–i.e., 76.07% of subcontracted dollars–Granite’s FPR says nothing about the other applicable small business goals–i.e., the goals applicable to WOSBs, SDBs, HUBZone small businesses, VOSBs, or SDVOSBs. In short, Granite’s proposed approach to subcontracting does not do either of the two things this solicitation required with respect to these other categories of small businesses–i.e., either meet the applicable goals, or explain why the goals could not be met. GAO finds that the agency acted reasonably when it concluded that Granite had not responded adequately to the small business subcontracting requirements set forth in this solicitation. The protest is denied.