Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: IAP World Services, Inc.
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied
Protest challenging contracting agency’s evaluation of protester’s proposal and its exclusion from the competitive range is denied where agency’s evaluation and competitive range determination were reasonable and in accordance with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
General Counsel PC:
IAP World Services, Inc. protested its elimination from the competitive range under an RFP for installation support services at Fort Erwin, California. Award was to be made to the best overall offer on an integrated assessment of four factors: mission capability, past performance, small business participation plan (SBPP), and cost/price. The agency took corrective action in response to IAP’s first protest, reevaluating IAP’s proposal. IAP was rated marginal under the mission capability factor, with weaknesses and significant weaknesses relating to staffing inadequacies. Although IAP offered a lower total evaluated probable cost/price (TEPC/P) than the median TEPC/C of all offerors, the CO found it was significantly outweighed by its low ratings under the non-cost factors.
IAP’s overarching argument is that, in reevaluating its proposal, the Army used a stricter standard of review than the one it used to evaluate proposals in the initial evaluation, resulting in disparate treatment. The GAO disagreed, finding that the evaluators merely took a fresh look at its proposal, as instructed. The GAO then found reasonable the agency’s reevaluation of IAP’s proposal under the mission capability factor. The agency had concerns about IAP’s ability to successfully perform all of the functional areas based on its proposed cross-utilization of staff. It also found insufficient the number of FTEs IAP proposed to operate two 24 hour dispatching centers, to perform maintenance services at 19 facilities, to provide locksmith maintenance and repair activities, and to manage and maintain a warehouse of parts and materials.
The GAO also found without merit IAP’s objections to its past performance evaluation. It found no proof behind IAP’s allegations that the agency deliberately sought out negative past performance information when searching for CPARs for contracts not listed in its proposal. Although IAP argued it should be rated outstanding under the SBPP factor, the GAO found the agency’s assessment of the plan as marginal overall to be reasonable and consistent with the terms of the RFP. Finally, the GAO denied IAP’s objections to the competitive range determination.
Although proposing leaner staffing plans may allow a company to offer a more attractive price to the government, offerors should be careful about reducing staff to the point that the agency questions whether the offeror can fully satisfy the requirements. If proposing to cross-utilize staff, an offeror must ensure that it thoroughly explains how it will maintain the minimum staffing across all functional areas while covering emergency and surge requirements. Although the agency recognized that IAP’s proposed staffing plan could work in principle, it questioned whether, in practice, IAP’s staff could be effectively reallocated so that all tasks were sufficiently staffed.