Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: IBM Global Business Services
Agency: Department of the Army, U.S. Special Operations Command
Disposition: Protest Sustained.
1. Protest that agency evaluated proposals using an unstated evaluation consideration is sustained where record shows that agency gave awardee (but not protester) evaluation credit for proposing to achieve full operating capability (FOC) on an accelerated basis, but the solicitation neither defined FOC nor included a schedule for achieving it.
2. Protest that agency used service desk quantity estimates for price evaluation purposes that differed significantly from the maximum quantities outlined in the solicitation is sustained; a procuring agency must provide sufficient information in a solicitation so that offerors can compete intelligently and on a relatively equal basis.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
IBM Global Business Services protested the award to Jacobs Technology, Inc. of a contract for information technology service management (ITSM) services. IBM asserted that the agency improperly credited Jacobs’s proposal, but not IBM’s proposal, for offering to achieve full operating capability (FOC) sooner than required; it further argued that the RFP neither defined FOC nor established a schedule for achieving it. Additionally, it asserted that Jacobs had impermissible organization conflicts of interest (OCIs) and had improper access to service desk quantity estimates for price evaluation purposes.
The GAO agreed with IBM’s argument that the agency improperly applied an unstated evaluation factor in its heavy consideration of proposed FOC achievement in evaluating proposals. The GAO also sustained IBM’s argument that the solicitation was materially misleading because it did not accurately reflect the user quantities the agency intended to use for evaluation purposes; it noted that all offerors other than Jacobs were misled into concluding that the number of users at particular service levels would be significantly different from the numbers used by the agency in its evaluations. The GAO disagreed with IBM’s allegations that Jacobs had both unfair access to information type OCI as well as biased ground rules type OCI, finding that the agency had undertaken adequate measures to preclude an OCI on the subcontracts on which Jacobs was performing.
Unsuccessful offerors should request a debriefing to fully understand the reasoning behind the agency’s evaluation of proposals. While a debriefing allows an offeror to learn from its mistakes and better understand how to approach obtaining contracts in the future, the debriefing may also uncover improper evaluations by the agency in making its award. Unsuccessful offerors should ensure that the agency adhered to the evaluation criteria described in the RFP, and that all criteria used in evaluation were adequately defined in the RFP. Additionally, contractors currently performing on agency contracts or subcontracts must be constantly vigilant about the possibility of OCIs and their potential impact on the ability to compete for contracts in the future.