Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Justice
Disposition: Protests denied.
Keywords: Technical Acceptability
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: A quotation that fails to conform to a material solicitation requirement is technically unacceptable and cannot form the basis for award.
JRS Management protests the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) determination that the firm’s quotation in response to a request for quotations (RFQ) was technically unacceptable.
The BOP issued the RFQ to provide the services of a computer aided drafting vocational trades instructor at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida. The RFQ required that the vendor’s instructor candidate possess the following experience and qualifications: (1) one year of teaching experience with demonstrated competencies, skills, and knowledge levels on which the instructor will be expected to teach; (2) State of Florida Teaching Certificate or non-degree Vocational Teaching Certificate; and (3) one year Computer Aided Drafting teaching experience. The RFQ also required that the vendor include in its quotation “supporting documentation” showing that its instructor candidate meets the above qualification and experience requirements. The RFQ stated that a vendor’s failure to provide this information “may cause your quote to be considered unacceptable.”
JRS was the only vendor to submit a quotation. However, the quotation did not identify where the candidate worked, provide any references for the agency to verify the candidate’s experience, or include any supporting documentation to substantiate JRS’ summary description of the candidate’s teaching experience. The contracting officer contacted JRS requesting that JRS provide reference information for the instructor candidate so that the agency could verify the candidate’s experience. The contracting officer explained that “I need the requested information . . . or you will not be consider[ed] for award.”
JRS did not provide the requested information, and instead protested that requirement to GAO. Thereafter, the agency advised that JRS’ quotation was technically unacceptable for failing to include supporting documentation evidencing the instructor’s qualifications and experience. JRS then supplemented its protest, challenging the finding of technical unacceptability on the grounds that the solicitation did not require the submission of resumes or employment references. GAO states that in reviewing an agency’s technical evaluation, it will examine the record to ensure that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the evaluation criteria and with procurement statutes and regulations. A quotation that fails to conform to a material solicitation requirement is technically unacceptable and cannot form the basis for award.
GAO finds that JRS’s quotation was properly found unacceptable. The RFQ’s plain language required vendors to submit supporting documentation to show that the instructor candidate possessed the required qualifications and experience. Although the protester’s quotation generally described the candidate’s experience, the quotation did not include sufficient details (such as where the individual worked) for the agency to verify the experience. Furthermore, JRS failed to provide the information when repeatedly requested by the agency. Since the quotation did not contain any supporting documentation showing that the instructor candidate possessed the requisite experience, and JRS failed to provide the documentation when requested by the agency, GAO finds reasonable the agency’s determination that JRS’ quotation was technically unobjectionable. The protest is denied.