Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging source selection authority’s (SSA) selection of lower-priced proposal based on determination that protester’s and awardee’s proposals were technically equal is denied where the record shows that, in reconsidering his selection of the protester’s proposal for award based on proposal strengths noted by the technical evaluation panel, the SSA reasonably concluded that the strengths noted by the evaluators did not reflect a substantial difference between the proposals and did not warrant the payment of the price premium associated with the protester’s proposal.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
HCRS essentially challenges the source selection authority’s (SSA) reversal of his earlier selection of HCRS’s higher-priced proposal for award. That selection decision had been based on a determination that the HCRS proposal’s almost 11-percent price premium was warranted by the slightly higher evaluation rating for three proposal strengths identified by the technical evaluation panel (TEP). HCRS contends that the SSA’s new source selection decision is unreasonable and inconsistent with the RFP’s terms. GAO states that source selection officials have broad discretion in determining the manner and extent to which they will make use of the results of a technical evaluation panel’s assessment of proposals, subject only to the tests of rationality and consistency with the evaluation criteria. Where, as here, a higher-level official determines that the technical evaluators’ findings do not reflect the actual value of proposals and the selection decision is protested, the agency must show that its ultimate determination is reasonable, with sufficient detail and explanation to permit GAO to review the determination for reasonableness. GAO’s review of the record provides no basis to question the reasonableness of the SSA’s decision to award a contract to Innotion based on his determination that the firm’s technically equal, lower-priced proposal was the most advantageous to the agency.
The SSA prepared a comprehensive source selection decision document summarizing his view of the TEP’s findings regarding the 15 proposals received. With respect to the SSA’s consideration of the HCRS proposal for his new source selection decision, the document references the evaluators’ identification of the three strengths in the proposal. While the SSA recognized that HCRS had been credited for [deleted], he also noted that [deleted] and thus, he did not find any added value from the [deleted]. In the agency report, the SSA further points out that Innotion’s proposal also generally discussed [deleted], but that no similar credit as a proposal strength had been added to the awardee’s evaluation rating. The agency report also points out that the RFP does not specifically provide for additional evaluation credit for [deleted]. Accordingly, GAO cannot find unreasonable either the SSA’s change in his assessment of the value of the TEP-identified strength or his conclusion that no added value was demonstrated by the protester in its proposal in this regard. While HCRS contends that the evaluators reasonably credited its proposal with a strength for [deleted], the proposal did not detail [deleted] or otherwise demonstrate that it relates to the evaluation subfactor under which it was noted as a strength by the TEP. Since the protester has not persuasively supported its contention that the credit given by the TEP for the referenced [deleted] was warranted under the RFP’s terms or that the SSA unreasonably concluded that the experience did not present any added value to the agency, GAO cannot conclude that the SSA’s discounting of such credit during his review of the previous source selection was unreasonable.
In sum, GAO’s review of the record shows no basis to question the reasonableness of the SSA’s new source selection decision that, among the technically equal proposals, Innotion’s lowest-priced proposal was the most advantageous to the agency. The protest is denied.