Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Proposal detail
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Offerors bear the burden of submitting an adequately written proposal and contracting agencies evaluating one section of a proposal are not required to go in search of additional information that an offeror has omitted or failed to adequately present.
Hi-Tech Systems, Inc. protests the exclusion of its proposal from the competitive range under a Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Agency (TSA) request for proposals for test and evaluation services. Award was to be on a “best value” basis considering the following factors: technical approach, management approach, past performance, and price. The agency received three proposals. After the initial evaluation, TSA notified Hi-Tec that the technical evaluation team (TET) had determined that its proposal was outside the competitive range due to a rating of technically unacceptable for its technical approach. Hi-Tec challenges the elimination of its proposal from the competitive range.
The determination of whether a proposal is in the competitive range is principally a matter within the judgment of the procuring agency. GAO will review that judgment–and the evaluation judgments on which it was based–only to ensure that it was reasonable and in accord with the solicitation and applicable statutes and regulations.
Hi-Tec maintains that its technical approach unreasonably was downgraded with regard to four of the issues identified by the TET, asserting that the evaluation was based on the agency’s “inattention to critical aspects of the company’s proposal.” Protest at 12. Hi-Tec asserts that the required information was included in its technical approach and, moreover, that the agency should have looked to other parts of its proposal, where it would have found information supporting a rating of at least good for its technical approach.
The GAO determined that these allegations were without merit. The GAO noted that the RFP required that proposals be submitted in four volumes, only one of which was to include the offeror’s technical approach. In light of this clear delineation, GAO held that the agency was required to search the other volumes of Hi-Tec’s proposal for information bearing on the identified weaknesses. In addition, GAO found that the additional information cited by Hi-Tec-both within and outside of its technical approach proposal–to be unconvincing. GAO denied the protest.