Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc.
Agency: United States Marshall Service
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of proposals and the best value source selection is denied, where the record reflects that the evaluation and source selection were reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc. protested the award of eleven separate contracts to Akal Security, Inc. to provide court security officers (CSOs) for federal judicial circuits 1-3 and 5-12. Evaluation would be conduced on a best value basis, considering technical ability to perform the statement of work, contract management, past performance, and price. The CO provided the SSA with an SSRM containing a comparative assessment of proposals under each factor, recommending award to Akal based on the CO’s conclusion that Akal offered substantial technical superiority and very small price differences in 10 circuits, and technical superiority and a lower price in one circuit. The SSA concurred with the recommendation, identifying four “value added” items that distinguished Akal’s proposal from other offerors.
The GAO first found that Inter-Con’s disagreement with the agency’s technical evaluation, including each of the discriminating strengths assigned to Akal’s proposal, did not afford a basis to sustain the protest. It found the agency’s crediting of Akal’s proposal with a strength for exceeding the solicitation’s stated requirements to be consistent with the best value nature of the RFP. The GAO agreed with the agency that the RFP permitted, but did not require, the agency to consider past performance references in evaluating technical proposals
Inter-Con then made several challenges to the agency’s evaluation of past performance, none of which the GAO sustained. The GAO found without merit Inter-Con’s objection to the use of an evaluation scale which Inter-Con argued was only for use by past performance references when completing survey responses. It found reasonable the agency’s evaluation of Akal’s past performance, noting that the record confirmed that a thorough and detailed qualitative review and comparative assessment of past performance was performed and provided to the SSA. Finally, the GAO denied Inter-Con’s protests that the SSA disregarded price as an evaluation factor in making his source selection decision, and that the best value tradeoff was flawed based on the alleged mistakes in the underlying evaluation.
Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing to better understand the evaluation of their proposal, as well as the rationale behind the agency’s source selection decision. When deciding whether to pursue a bid protest, disappointed offerors should carefully consider whether they merely disagree with the agency’s award decision, or whether there appear to be improprieties in the procurement which support pursuing a protest. The GAO will generally reject arguments objecting to the evaluation of proposals so long as the agency has adequately documented its conclusions and those conclusions are reasonable in light of the stated evaluation criteria.