Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Laboratory Corporation of America
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied
- Under solicitation contemplating establishment of fixed-price blanket purchase agreement, protest objecting to agency’s failure to perform realism analysis of successful vendor’s pricing for individual items is denied where the contracting officer reasonably evaluated the awardee’s lower price.
- Protester’s challenge to technical evaluation is denied where the weaknesses attributed to the protester’s technical submission were reasonably based.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) protested the establishment with Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute of a BPA for laboratory testing services for Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 6. Award was to be made on a best value basis, considering technical, past performance, and price. The RFQ provided a detailed chart summarizing 10 factors and related subfactors under the technical evaluation, the evaluation standard for determining whether a subfactor had been met, and the information pertaining to that subfactor that offerors should include in their proposals. The solicitation also provided a pricing schedule, for which offerors were to provide costs for various tests and well as optional courier service for specimen transportation.
The GAO first rejected LabCorp’s argument that Quest’s courier pick-up prices were unrealistically low, pointing out that the RFQ only provided for an evaluation of “total price,” and that the agency had found that Quest’s overall total price was realistic and in line with both LabCorp’s total price and the government estimate. The GAO also declined to object to Quest’s courier service pricing, finding that, since Quest itself proposed the amounts, they represented not less than what Quest regards as the fair market value of the services to be rendered.
The GAO also found without merit LabCorp’s challenges to the marginal ratings it received under its technical evaluation. It noted that LabCorp’s proposal failed to demonstrate full compliance with the requirement of the RFQ that the contractor ensure uninterrupted coverage with the specimen processor position. While LabCorp argued that it took only a limited exception to the requirement, the GAO found the very fact that LabCorp had included the conditions in its proposal showed that LabCorp believed them to have some significance. It also found that LabCorp’s statement that it “retains most specimens for 5-7 days” did not demonstrate compliance with the requirement that the contractor store specimens “a minimum of 7 days . . . .”
Offerors must ensure that their proposals comply with all the terms of the solicitation, and contain an unequivocal offer to perform. Imposing conditions or taking exception to a material solicitation requirement may limit a contractor’s liability to the government, or limit the rights of the government under the resulting contract. Such limitations will result in the rejection of an offer as nonresponsive.