Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of Koontz Electric Company, Inc., regarding the award of a contract to ABB, Inc., under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, for replacement of excitation systems at Chief Joseph Dam in Bridgeport, Washington.
The RFP sought proposals to design, manufacture, test, deliver, install, and commission eleven excitation systems for the hydropower generation systems at Chief Joseph Dam. As relevant to the protest, the technical factor consisted of three subfactors: corporate experience and capabilities, electrical design experience, and key personnel qualifications. Under the electrical design experience subfactor, the RFP required each offeror to demonstrate experience in electrical design similar to the project requirements that was similar in scope, magnitude and complexity to the RFP. The RFP also instructed offerors that “[d]esign service experience should include design calculations and drawings from a registered Professional Engineer.”
Koontz argues that its proposal was misevaluated under the corporate experience and design experience subfactors. With respect to its challenge to the evaluation of its corporate experience, Koontz argues that its lack of experience in simultaneous RDC and LDC should have resulted in a “neutral” evaluation of the firm’s corporate experience, rather than an unacceptable rating. Turning to the firm’s design experience, Koontz argues that the evaluators unreasonably found that the projects listed in its proposal lacked adequate details to show their relevance. The firm also argues that the agency incorrectly believed that Koontz’s drawings and calculations had not been prepared by a professional engineer. Koontz argues that “page 9” in its proposal identified the person who prepared the drawings and calculations by name, and the proposal later identified him as a professional engineer.
GAO found that the RFP requested that descriptions of the offeror’s electrical design experience should “clearly demonstrate how the project is relevant,” and directed offerors to include calculations and drawings from a “registered Professional Engineer.” GAO’s review of the record showed that Koontz’s proposal provided minimal narrative to describe the scope of its design experience projects. For example, as its first project reference, the description of the scope of work was two sentences. The first stated that the project was for the replacement of two excitation systems of a particular type, and that each system “had redundant regulators with [particular technical features] and similar functions as requested for Chief Joseph.” The second sentence simply stated that the design firm “also provided Engineering, Commissioning and Training services.” Therefore, Koontz’s design experience references failed to provide most of the detailed information expressly requested by the RFP. In addition, the firm’s proposal did not state that the accompanying design drawings and calculations were prepared by a professional engineer. Because the proposal did not show that the firm had the design experience requested by the terms of the RFP, the evaluators reasonably rated Koontz’s proposal as marginal under the design experience subfactor.