Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Harris IT Services Corporation
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that contracting agency’s evaluation of protester’s technical and past performance information was unreasonable and inadequately documented is denied where the record shows that the evaluation was reasonable and sufficiently supported.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Harris IT Services Corporation protested the award of a task order to provide information technology (IT) support services to General Dynamics, One Source, arguing that the GSA’s evaluation of Harris’s proposal was unreasonable. The GSA had noted a weakness in Harris’s quotation due to its proposed reduction in staffing levels during the option years on the contract. Post-protest, the GSA explained that Harris’s proposed staffing reduction went beyond what was warranted with no explanation, and that the failure to explain the reduction was the basis for the weakness.
The GAO first rejected with the GSA’s claim that the protest was untimely filed more than 10 days after the written debriefing, noting that the agency had opened the door to a verbal continuation of the debriefing process. It then disregarded Harris’s argument that it must limit its review to contemporaneous documentation, finding that the GSA’s post-protest explanations were consistent with the contemporaneous record. The GAO noted that the perceived weaknesses in Harris’s proposal were not due to its proposed staffing levels, but rather because it failed to adequately explain these levels. Finally, the GAO disagreed with Harris’s argument that its past performance evaluation was downgraded to medium confidence because the GSA did not receive three past performance questionnaires relating to prior contracts. The GAO found it reasonable that, lacking one questionnaire, the agency did not have sufficient confidence in Harris to give it a higher confidence rating.
There are two important considerations when preparing offers. First, where an RFP provides considerable flexibility for offerors to propose their own solutions to fulfill the needs of the requirement, an offeror should provide detailed explanations for their choices. Failure to adequately explain the reasoning behind a plan could result in the assignment of a weakness to the proposal. Second, where the RFP requires documentation of past performance, offerors must ensure that all requested documentation is provided to the agency. If thrid parties from prior contracts are required to submit information directly to the agency, offerors must follow up with these parties to make certain the agency receives the requested documentation. Although the lack of complete documentation on past performance may not result in a downgraded evaluation, it could still prevent that offer from being assigned the highest level of confidence.