Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of LS3 Technologies Inc. based on the award of a task order to Electrosoft Services, Inc. under a request for quotations (RFQ), issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for an Enterprise physical access control system (ePACS).
The RFQ sought proposals for an ePACS solution for the VA. The competition was a small business set-aside, and was limited to firms that held contracts under FSS contract No. 70. Proposals were evaluated based on technical, past performance, veterans involvement, and price factors. The RFQ also stated that for a proposal to be considered, an “Acceptable” rating must be achieved for the technical factor.
LS3 first argued that the VA unreasonably found its proposal technically unacceptable. The agency found six deficiencies in LS3’s proposal and noted that none of the deficiencies could be corrected without a “major rewrite or revision of the proposal.” GAO only discussed the first deficiency because a finding that it was reasonably assessed meant that it did not have to evaluate the other five. The first deficiency concerned its approach to the scalability requirements. The SOW required that the protester provide a detailed approach addressing expertise in scaling PACS systems to extremely large, complex, and secure ePACS. LS3 failed to provide detail on how it would meet this requirement. LS3 included a 41-page document responding to each deficiency. LS3 argued that its proposal contained a number of references that addressed scalability, which should have led the agency to understand that it met the requirement. The agency argued, and GAO agreed, that the references, all in different parts of the proposal, did not adequately address the requirement in detail.
For example, LS3 discussed two sites required under the RFQ to host the “backend” of the ePACS solution demonstrating that it could meet the scalability requirements. Specifically, LS3 stated, “The ePACS will be configured where each “Site” (e.g., Martinsburg or Richmond) will be sized and equipped to host the VA enterprise need. We will provide this configuration specification within our System Design under the Section 2.2.5 task.” LS3 argues that this quote should have been understood to address scalability. However, the agency argued that LS3 merely restated the RFQ requirement to ensure that the two “backend” facilities could independently handle the entire workload. GAO agreed with the agency. The protester only confirmed that it would be “sized and equipped” to meet the agency’s needs with regard to the backend facilities and did not discuss the requirement to scale the ePACS to the 6,000 VA facilities. GAO concluded that the agency reasonably identified a deficiency for LS3’s proposal regarding the scalability requirements, and assigned a rating of unacceptable.
LS3 also argued that the award to Electrosoft was improper where Electrosoft’s proposal contained open market items, i.e. items not on its FSS contract. GAO concluded that the items labeled “open market” were inaccurately labeled and were part of a larger item that was included on Electrosoft’s schedule contract.