Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of protester’s technical proposal is denied, where the evaluation was consistent with the solicitation evaluation criteria.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
JVSCC challenges the Navy’s evaluation of its technical proposal under each of the RFP’s evaluation factors, complaining, among other things, that the evaluators applied unstated evaluation criteria and that the agency’s evaluation under the first factor, “organizational and team experience,” unfairly affected the rest of the agency’s technical evaluation. GAO states that it examines an agency’s evaluation of experience and past performance to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria and applicable statutes and regulations; however, the necessary determinations regarding the relative merits of offerors’ proposals are primarily matters within the contracting agency’s discretion. In this regard, GAO will not question an agency’s determinations absent evidence that those determinations are unreasonable or contrary to the stated evaluation criteria. Moreover, a protester’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment does not establish that an evaluation was unreasonable.
GAO finds, from a review of the record, that there is no basis to object to the agency’s assignment of an overall marginal rating to JVSCC’s proposal under the organizational and team experience factor. The RFP required that each of the six projects identified by the offeror in its proposal must have been performed by the offeror as a “prime contractor,” and that, where, as here, the offeror was a joint venture, each joint venture partner must have performed at least one of the projects as a prime contractor or as part of a joint venture that was the prime contractor. One of the projects identified by JVSCC in its proposal–the only one identified as being performed by one of the JVSCC joint venture partners, CDM–was for the “construction of electrical services” for another firm, “Mirabella S.p.a.,” for the construction of a “bowling centre” at a Navy support site. The Navy concluded that this project could not be considered relevant because CDM performed this work as a subcontractor to Mirabella and not as a prime contractor. JVSCC argues, however, that because Mirabella is the property owner and the Navy only uses the facility, CDM actually performed the electrical work as a prime contractor. The Navy responds that because CDM did not bear overall responsibility for the job of building the bowling center, but instead performed only the electrical work, CDM cannot be considered the prime contractor for the project.
GAO states that, from a review of the record, there is no basis to disagree with the Navy’s judgment that CDM performed the work on this project as a subcontractor. The record shows that JVSCC’s proposal simply stated that CDM performed the electrical work for another firm, Mirabella, for a bowling center being built for the Navy, which reasonably indicated that CDM’s work on this project was performed as a subcontractor. It is an offeror’s responsibility to submit a well-written proposal, with adequately detailed information which clearly demonstrates compliance with the solicitation and allows a meaningful review by the procuring agency. Moreover, JVSCC’s arguments, here, do not demonstrate that the Navy’s conclusions regarding CDM’s performance of this project were unreasonable. In sum, the Navy reasonably found that CDM’s work on this project (the only project provided for this joint venture partner) was not done as a prime contractor and therefore the Navy’s marginal rating of JVSCC’s proposal under this factor was consistent with the RFP.
JVSCC also objects to the Navy’s evaluation of its proposal under the second factor, “organizational past performance,” arguing that the agency’s “arbitrary evaluation methodology from Factor 1 had the highly prejudicial effect of precluding consideration of two thirds of JVSCC’s past performance surveys.” Specifically, JVSCC complains that the Navy should have considered the protester’s performance under a number of the projects that the Navy concluded were not relevant.
On this record, even if GAO did accept JVSCC’s arguments that the Navy should have considered the protester’s performance under a number of the projects that the Navy had found not relevant, GAO finds that JVSCC has not shown a reasonable possibility that it was prejudiced by the Navy’s assessment of the firm’s past performance as satisfactory. Although JVSCC identified two projects out of the six it had proposed (other than CDM’s subcontract project) that were considered to be not relevant by the Navy and for which JVSCC claims that it had excellent past performance, there is no showing that this could reasonably result in a higher past performance rating for JVSCC, given that the firm failed to provide past performance information for all its joint venture partners as contemplated by the RFP. In addition, JVSCC has not shown that a higher rating under the past performance factor would have improved JVSCC’s overall competitive position, given that, as noted above, the protester had significantly lower evaluation ratings than the awardee under all of the non-price evaluation factors.
JVSCC also challenges the Navy’s evaluation of its proposal under the “management approach” factor, for which JVSCC’s proposal was also rated as marginal. The Navy found under this factor that the protester’s proposal was “marginally written,” failed to explain its processes or plans, failed to include key personnel resumes that adequately demonstrated the experience and qualifications of its proposed personnel, failed to clearly show its organizational structure, and failed to provide sufficient detail to explain the firm’s quality control program.
Although JVSCC contends that its proposal adequately addressed each of this factor’s subfactors and should have received a higher rating, a review of the record provides no basis to disagree with the agency’s judgment that JVSCC’s proposal only generally responded to the management approach subfactors. For example, under the “Construction Process Management” subfactor, the evaluators found that JVSCC’s “process management approach proposal was marginally written and did not clearly explain its proposed process management for the Joint Venture’s plan in executing the proposed requirements under this . . . contract.” GAO agrees. As the evaluation report pointed out, the protester’s proposal reiterated the experience of the three separate companies in the implementation of ID/IQ or job-order-contract type construction projects by two of the joint venture partners, without making clear what role the third partner would have in the organization and process management for construction implementation. In addition, the evaluators found that JVSCC’s process management explanation was “very elementary and marginally adequate.” JVSCC has not shown that judgment to be unreasonable. While JVSCC disagrees with the Navy’s evaluation judgments, its disagreement is not sufficient to establish that the agency acted unreasonably.
JVSCC also disagrees with the Navy’s assignment of a satisfactory rating to the firm’s proposal under the “safety” factor. The Navy found that, although the firm’s proposal generally addressed the safety plan elements and other requirements, it did not provide “good detail” of the safety-related duties of all on-site personnel. JVSCC objects to the agency’s concern with JVSCC’s reported Lost Workday Incident Rate and Recordable Incident Rate but does not dispute the agency’s assessment that the firm had failed to provide a detailed safety plan and that it had merely summarized the Corps of Engineers manual. Under the circumstances, although the Navy provided little support for its documented concern that the joint venture partners had not reported any lost workdays or recordable incidents over a five-year period, GAO finds no basis to conclude that JVSCC’s proposal would merit a higher than satisfactory rating where the protester does not dispute the Navy’s other documented concerns with the firm’s discussion of its safety plan. The protest is denied.