Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Evaluation Criteria
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: An offeror’s must submit an adequately written proposal or they run the risk that their proposal will be downgraded or rejected.
GAO denies the protest JSR, Inc. where its proposal was rejected, under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of the Air Force, for construction services.
JSR asserts that the Air Force did not evaluate proposals in accordance with the stated evaluation criteria. More specifically, JSR contends that its drawings for seed project nos. 3 and 4, which JSR terms 100 [percent] drawings, sufficiently document the materials it intends to use and satisfy the RFP’s requirements. GAO states that in reviewing protests challenging the evaluation of proposals, it will not conduct a new evaluation or substitute its judgment for that of the agency but will examine the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable and in accord with the RFP evaluation criteria. A protester’s mere disagreement with an agency’s judgment is not sufficient to establish that an agency acted unreasonably. Moreover, it is an offeror’s responsibility to submit an adequately written proposal that demonstrates the merits of its approach; an offeror runs the risk of having its proposal downgraded or rejected if the proposal is inadequately written.
Here, the record supports the Air Force’s determination that JSR’s responses to seed project nos. 3 and 4 were insufficient. With respect to JSR’s response to seed project no. 3 (replacing line feeder conductors on existing electrical poles), the agency found that although JSR provided a Pole Line Demolition and Construction Schedule, which listed all 12 existing poles, neither this schedule nor the drawings provided with JSR’s proposal identify any work to be done on six of the poles. JSR has not shown that the agency’s judgment in this regard was unreasonable. The affidavit that JSR provided from its engineer does no more than state the protester’s disagreement about the acceptability of its drawings. GAO agrees with the Air Force that the lack of information pertaining to six of the 12 poles identified under the statement of objectives (SOO) for seed project no. 3 raises a question as to whether JSR’s proposal satisfies the requirements of the RFP.
JSR also does not show to be unreasonable the agency’s concern that the protester intended to replace six of the 12 poles without supporting information in its proposal. Although the protester now states in its comments that it did not intend to replace the existing poles in seed project no. 3, it does not explain why its proposal provided a table for seed project no. 3 showing the depths at which the electrical poles should be set into the ground.
GAO also does not agree with JSR that the Air Force’s concerns with its proposal reflected the consideration of unstated evaluation criteria. The RFP required offerors to provide supporting data as needed to clearly present the contractor’s proposed design concept, including material proposed, to comply with the government’s requirements for the seed projects. All of the agency’s concerns with the protester’s submissions for seed project nos. 3 and 4 are specifically encompassed by the solicitation requirements for preparation of the seed project proposals. The protest is denied.