Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Corrective action; Final proposal revisions
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Goddard Space Flight Center issued a request for proposals in January, 2008, in which it sought proposals to provide personnel, materials, and facilities necessary to perform all space communications network services (SCNS) program requirements.
Three offerors, including incumbent Honeywell and ITT, submitted proposals by the closing date, at which time the contracting officer decided that discussions with offerors were necessary, and established a competitive range consisting of the Honeywell and ITT proposals. NASA conducted discussions, followed by the offerors’ submission of final proposal revisions (FPR). Honeywell’s proposal was found to be lower in evaluated cost. But, NASA’s source selection authority (SSA) determined that ITT’s proposal was technically superior to that of Honeywell under both the mission suitability and past performance factors. In October 2008, the SSA found, among other things, that while both offerors possessed highly relevant past performance, ITT had a quality advantage relating to systems engineering and developmental tasks that outweighed the higher cost of its proposal, and thus, ITT’s proposal represented the best value to the government.
In October 2008, Honeywell protested various aspects of the evaluation and source selection decision. In January 2009, , the GAO sustained Honeywell’s protest in part, finding that NASA’s evaluation of ITT’s past performance was not reasonable or in accordance with the solicitation and recommended that NASA reevaluate ITT’s past performance in making a new source selection determination. This reevaluation also found that ITT’s proposal offered the best value to the government, which Honeywell protested again. Following an alternative dispute conference conducted by the GAO, NASA announced its intent to take corrective action in the form of conducting discussions with offerors regarding past performance, permitting offerors to submit FPRs limited to past performance information, reevaluating and then making a new source selection determination. Based on the proposed corrective action, the GAO dismissed Honeywell’s second protest. Honeywell then filed an agency-level protest, which was denied by NASA, asserting that NASA’s planned corrective action was insufficient because it ignored the fact that offerors’ proposals had become outdated.
The GAO stated that when corrective action does not also include amending the solicitation, it will not question an agency’s decision to restrict proposal revisions so long as it is reasonable in nature and remedies the established or suspected procurement impropriety. As such, the GAO found that NASA’s decision to limit the scope of its corrective action was reasonable. The GAO also found that Honeywell failed to establish that NASA’s decision permitting offerors to update their past performance information would have a material impact on the cost or technical proposals. The GAO concluded that NASA could have chosen to permit offerors to also revise their technical and cost proposals, but that its decision not to represents a reasonable exercise of its discretion. GAO denied Honeywell’s protest.