Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied
Decided: November 7, 2019
Keywords: Interested Party
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
A protest will be denied where the protester is not an interested party to challenge the procurement.
Summary of Facts
VetsTec, LLC protests the award of a contract to B3 Group, Inc., under RFP No. 36C10B19R0009, issued on May 13, 2019 by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for an enterprise telecommunications expense management solution to provide asset and service inventory for the VA.
The award considered price and non-price factors, including technical, past performance, and veteran’s involvement. The technical factor required offerors to provide a draft Concept of Operations (CONOPS). Under the RFP, if a proposal failed to meet the minimum requirements, it would be rated “unacceptable” and ineligible for award. VetsTec submitted its proposal on June 9. Subsequently, on June 19, the VA issued an amendment to the RFP, adding a page limit for the technical factor response. Under the amendment, all pages submitted, including cover pages, table of contents, and any attachments, would be counted towards the 40-page limit and any pages after 40 would not be evaluated.
Offerors were given an opportunity to submit a revised proposal, in light of the new page limit. VetsTec chose not to submit a revised proposal. The VA evaluated the proposals and assigned VetsTec’s proposal two deficiencies, finding that VetsTec’s proposal failed to provide an “EBonding” integration framework capability and failed to include the draft CONOPS. VetsTec’s draft CONOPS was not evaluated because it began after page 40 in the proposal. VetsTec’s proposal was found to be technically unacceptable and thus ineligible for award. B3 received the award and VetsTec filed this protest.
Basis of Protest
VetsTec argues that the agency unreasonably evaluated its proposal and made a flawed award decision. Specifically, VetsTec believes that the VA unreasonably assigned its proposal a deficiency for its alleged failure to address the E-Bonding requirement, claiming that its technical volume was only 39 pages and that, “consistent with government procurement norms, the original RFP did not affirmatively state than an offeror’s TOC [table of contents] or acronyms would be counted towards the 40 page limit.” VetsTec argues that these alleged errors led to a flawed selection decision.
The GAO concluded that VetsTec is not an interested party to challenge the procurement. The GAO explained that the Bid Protest Regulations define an interested party as “an actual or prospective bidder or offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or the failure to award a contract.” However, “a protester is not an interested party where it could not be considered for an award if its protest were sustained.”
Here, the RFP stated that if a proposal was found technically unacceptable, it would not be eligible for award and that the draft CONOPS must be included in the technical volume of an offeror’s proposal, keeping the page limit in mind. However, VetsTec’s technical proposal volume was 45 pages in total, and so the last 5 pages were not evaluated. The draft CONOPS portion of VetsTec’s proposal did not appear until page 42 of its proposal. Therefore, the GAO found that the VA reasonably concluded that VetsTec’s proposal had failed to provide the required draft CONOPS. Under the RFP, a proposal found to be technically unacceptable would not be eligible for award. Since VetsTec’s technically unacceptable proposal rendered it ineligible for award, the GAO determined VetsTec is not an interested party to pursue this protest, since it could not be considered for award even if the protest were sustained.
The GAO denied the protest on this basis.