Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Disposition: Protest Denied
Decided: April 19, 2018
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Technical ratings are relevant when evaluating protests. When another bidder has equal ratings and a lower price, a protester must establish that their own bid was improperly evaluated, in order to have standing to argue the awardee’s bid was improperly evaluated.
Summary of Facts
Vertical Jobs, Inc. (VJ) protests the award of a contract to NARCORPS Specialties, LLC (Narcorps) on several grounds. They allege a lack of meaningful discussions with the agency, misevaluated proposals, improper responsibility determination, and unreasonable selection decision.
The request for proposals (RFP) sought role player support services. The RFP contemplated the award, on a best-value tradeoff basis, of a hybrid contract with both time-and-materials and fixed-price contract line items. The contract was to be performed over a 1 year base period and four 1 year option periods. The following factors were to be used in the evaluation of the proposals (in descending order of importance):
- Management and staffing approach;
- Prior experience;
- Past performance, and finally,
While non-price factors in combination were held as significantly more important, as evaluation results under non-price factors became closer to equal, the importance of price would increase, per the RFP. Of the twelve proposals received, the final evaluation results included three relevant proposals:
|Management and Staffing Approach||Prior Experience||Past Performance||Price|
Narcorps was determined to be the best value to the government based on its highest rated technical capability and competitive pricing.
Summary of Arguments
VJs arguments the agency failed to conduct meaningful discussions and failed to assign a strength for its management plan were untimely. VJs arguments about the appropriate technical evaluation under the management and staffing approach were found to be without support. VJs argument about disparate treatment between their proposal and Narcorps’ proposal was also rejected.
VJ also raised allegations about Narcorps’ proposal, including the misevaluation of Narcorps’ proposal, an improper responsibility determination, and an unreasonable source selection.
The GAO did not even consider VJs other arguments. They note a protester must be an interested party in order to pursue a protest. An interested party is defined as an actual or prospective offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award. The GAO notes only parties in line for the award are “interested parties.”
In this case, VJ and Offeror A received equal technical ratings, but Offeror A provided a lower proposed price. Consequently, if the GAO did, indeed find Narcorps’ proposal was improperly evaluated, Offeror A, and not VJ, would be next in line for the award. As such, VJ is not an interested party.