Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: HydroGeoLogic, Inc.
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest that agency used unstated criteria to evaluate proposals is denied where allegedly unstated criteria were reasonably related to, and logically encompassed by, the stated criteria.
- Agency reasonably assigned offerors unknown confidence for past performance where it did not receive the requisite number of past performance questionnaires required by the solicitation.
- When evaluating the past performance of a joint venture, an agency may properly consider the past performance of the individual members of the joint venture where the solicitation does not prohibit this approach.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
HydroGeoLogic, Inc. (HGL) protested the award to EA Engineering (EA); Cape Environmental Management, Inc.; PIKA-MP JV, LLC; Kemron Environmental Services, Inc.; and Plexus-PARS JV, LLC of contracts for environmental services. The RFP contemplated award of five ID/IQ contracts on a best value basis, considering the following evaluation factors: corporate experience (with subfactors for corporate experience and project listing); hypothetical scenario; management; quality/safety; past performance; personnel; and price. After conducting a best value analysis, the agency selected the five most highly technically rated offers for award.
The GAO first rejected HGL’s arguments regarding its evaluation under the corporate experience factor, finding that the assigned weaknesses to HGL’s proposal (regarding whether the proposed team had worked together before) concerned matters which were reasonably related to, and logically encompassed by, the evaluation criteria in the RFP. The GAO then found no reason to consider HGL’s objections to the weakness assigned under the project listing subfactor for inadequate explanation of cost growth, finding that there was no indication in the record that the lack of a more detailed explanation of cost growth in its project listing adversely affected HGL’s competitive standing.
The GAO found unobjectionable the agency’s rating of unknown confidence to those offerors who did not provide the five past performance questionnaires required by the RFP, despite HGL’s assertion that they should have been rated unsatisfactory. Finally, the GAO found without merit HGL’s argument that Plexus-PARS JV, LLC should have been rated neutral, rather than very low risk, for past performance, because it did not submit any past performance information for the joint venture. The GAO noted that agencies are permitted to consider the past performance of individual joint venture partners so long as doing so is not expressly prohibited by the RFP.
Agencies are required to evaluate offers in accordance with the stated requirements in the solicitation. A disappointed offeror should request a debriefing so as to better understand how its proposal was evaluated and to ensure that the proposal was evaluated in accordance with the stated criteria. However, disappointed offerors should be careful when protesting that the agency applied unstated evaluation criteria in rating their proposal. Procuring agencies are not required to specifically list every area that may be taken into consideration during an evaluation, so long as those areas are reasonably related to or encompassed by the stated criteria.