Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: ITT Electronic Systems
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Unincorporated division of corporate parent that submitted proposal and filed protest is interested party to protest notwithstanding post-proposal-submission corporate restructuring whereby unincorporated division and assets committed to contract performance were transferred to new, stand-alone corporate entity.
- Protest that agency imposed unstated evaluation criterion for data reflecting testing under dynamic flight conditions is denied where solicitation for development of missile countermeasure system to be used aboard military aircraft adequately advised offerors that agency would consider performance of proposed systems under dynamic flight conditions.
- Protest that agency unreasonably evaluated [DELETED] cable component of protester’s proposed countermeasure system is denied where content of protester’s proposal reasonably supports agency’s evaluation criticisms.
- Protest that agency treated offerors unequally is denied where record reflects reasonable basis for distinction that agency identified between proposals.
General Counsel PC:
ITT Electronics System protested the awards to BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Inc. and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation of contracts for development of a common infrared countermeasure system (CIRCM) to protect rotary-wing aircraft from missile threats. The solicitation provided for the award of two or more contracts to provide technical development services and produce prototype items. The agency established a competitive range consisting of four offerors, conducted discussions, and accepted FPRs. The SSA concluded that Northrop Grumman offered significant technical merit at the lowest proposed cost, and therefore represented one of the two best values to the government. The SSA then found that although ITT offered a lower proposed cost, BAE represented a better value to the government due to its significant technical superiority.
The GAO began by rejecting the agency’s argument that ITT was not an interested party due to a corporate reorganization that occurred after ITT submitted its proposal. Turning to the merits, the GAO first disagreed with ITT that the agency applied unstated evaluation criteria, finding that the agency’s considerations of the timing capability of proposed CIRCM systems under dynamic flight conditions fell within the solicitation provisions. The GAO then rejected ITT’s objection to the assignment of an acceptable, rather than good, rating on the Pcm subfactor. The GAO then disagreed with ITT’s challenges to two aspects of its evaluation regarding ITT’s use of a [DELETED] cable to transmit laser energy from the CIRCM system’s laser to its pointer/tracker. The GAO found the agency’s assessment of weaknesses supported by the record, which noted risks regarding design maturity and environmental exposure. It also found reasonable the agency’s assignment of a weakness because ITT proposed specific power levels and wavelengths for its CIRCM system, but failed to indicate that it had tested the [DELETED] material at those power levels and wavelengths.
The GAO denied ITT’s argument that the agency had engaged in misleading discussions with respect to the testing of ITT’s [DELETED] cable at full power, noting that the argument was more properly characterized as a claim of unreasonable evaluation. It then rejected ITT’s allegations that the agency treated ITT, BAE, and Northrop Grumman unequally in evaluating the data rights that each firm offered to the government, pointing out that the record reflected a reasonable distinction between ITT’s proposal and the proposals of BAE and Northrop Grumman. Because ITT’s objections to the best value determination were based on its objections to the evaluations that the GAO had addressed earlier in its decision, the GAO declined to sustain the protest on that ground.
Offerors bear the burden of submitting adequately written proposals, and run the risk that their proposals will be evaluated unfavorably where they fail to do so. Where materials used in design must be capable of withstanding certain power levels, offerors must ensure that their proposals thoroughly detail the capabilities of their materials and indicate what level of testing has been successfully performed.