Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Transportation
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Technical Evaluation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: When GAO reviews a protest that alleges an improper evaluation, it does not substitute its judgment for that of the agency’s, but rather examines the record to determine whether the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable law.
The Department of Transportation issued a small business set-aside request for proposals (RFP), which contemplated the award of a no-cost contract for operation of DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center cafeteria. The RFP required each proposal to include a “technical description of the items being offered in sufficient detail to evaluate compliance with the requirements of the solicitation.” The RFP also advised that award would be made based on an evaluation of technical capability, staffing, and relevant past performance, as well as the reasonableness of the firm’s pricing structure.
The agency awarded the contract to Regent School Catering FCS, Inc., the company rated the highest in technical merit. La Dolce Vida Catering protested the award.
In its protest, La Dolce Vida challenged the agency’s evaluation of the proposals and its selection of Regent. When GAO reviews a protest that alleges an improper evaluation, it does not substitute its judgment for that of the agency’s, but rather examines the record to determine whether the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable procurement statutes and regulations. Based on the record here, GAO found no basis to question the agency’s evaluation. In fact, it found that in each evaluation area, the record reflected additional detail and strengths for the Regent proposal that were reasonably given more evaluation credit than La Dolce Vida’s proposal. While both proposals contained strengths and weaknesses, the record sufficiently reflected the fact that La Dolce Vida’s weaknesses were greater than Regent’s, and thus warranted a lower evaluation rating. Based on this determination, GAO denied La Dolce Vida’s protest.