Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Technical Evaluation; evaluation criteria
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: An agency is not precluded from considering an element of a proposal under more than one evaluation criterion where the element is relevant and reasonably related to each criterion under which it is considered.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to Guident Technologies, Inc. under Guident’s General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contract for enterprise data warehouse (EDW) support services. The original request for quotations was issued to three small business FSS contract holders, including Guident and InnovaTech, Inc., who subsequently protested the award to Guident.
In its protest, InnovaTech raised two principal challenges. First, InnovaTech alleged that the agency’s evaluation conclusions were not reasonable and were inconsistent with the evaluation criteria. However, GAO’s review of the record found that USPTO’s evaluation of InnovaTech’s quotation was proper. Specifically it determined that, as identified by the USPTO evaluators, several of InnovaTech’s responses in its quotation lacked detail and did not provide sufficient descriptions. Moreover, InnovaTech’s claim that its successful past performance was an adequate substitute for demonstrating its ability to manage the EDW work was found to be a mere disagreement with the USPTO’s judgment, and not a valid basis upon which to overturn the selection decision.
The other component of InnovaTech’s protest argued that the agency’s best value tradeoff decision was based on criteria not stated in the RFQ. Where a price /technical tradeoff is made, the source selection decision must be documented, and the documentation must include the rationale for the tradeoff. In this instance, the contracting officer (CO) premised her determination on a review of the relative importance of the RFQ’s evaluation criteria, and the size of the price difference between the quotes received. In her review, the CO specifically noted various technical advantages in Guident’s quote and concluded that it represented the best value because the many technical advantages outweighed the small price premium. GAO’s review agreed with this conclusion and did not find any instances in which the CO employed unstated criteria. Based on the above determinations, GAO denied the protest.