Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Brand Name or Equal
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: With respect to the offer of an “equal” product, an offeror’s proposal must demonstrate that its product conforms to the salient characteristics listed in the solicitation.
MediaNow, Inc. protests the award of a contract under a request for quotations (RFQ), issued by the Department of the Navy, Naval Inventory Control Point-Mechanicsburg, for digital signage solutions and hardware at Navy shipyards.
The RFQ contemplated the award of an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract for two years, for a guaranteed minimum of $400,000 and a maximum of $2 million over the life of the contract. The RFQ specified the use of Cisco Systems, Inc. or “equal” products, including digital media manager and video on demand appliances, outdoor billboards, LCD monitors, speakers, media players, and associated maintenance, technical support, installation and training. Award was to be made to the vendor with the lowest-priced, technically acceptable quotation.
MediaNow initially submitted quotations offering two alternate “equal” product solutions. The evaluators found each solution had numerous deficiencies. In discussions, the agency identified the deficiencies in MediaNow’s solutions and provided it an opportunity to revise its quotation. MediaNow’s final quotation offered VBrick products as a new “equal” solution. As with its prior solutions, the evaluators found that MediaNow’s new solution indicated noncompliance with some requirements and failed to provide information demonstrating that its products met various other salient characteristics. Although MediaNow’s quotation offered the lowest price, its quotation was evaluated as technically unacceptable.
MediaNow asserts that the agency misevaluated its proposal; according to the protester, its products meet or exceed all salient characteristics. GAO states that in reviewing a protest of an agency’s evaluation of proposals, its review is confined to a determination of whether the agency acted reasonably and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable statutes and regulations. It is the offeror’s duty to include sufficiently detailed information in its proposal to establish that the equipment offered meets the solicitation requirements; blanket statements of compliance are insufficient to fulfill this duty. Further, with respect to the offer of an “equal” product, an offeror’s proposal must demonstrate that its product conforms to the salient characteristics listed in the solicitation.
In determining that MediaNow’s quotation was unacceptable, the evaluators found at least 19 instances where the vendor failed to demonstrate that each of its equal items satisfied all of the salient characteristics. For example, the RFQ required the digital media manager appliance to remotely control and manage digital display properties such as on/off, contrast, brightness, and volume; to archive content/assign metadata to assets; and to offer a minimum of six gigabytes RAM. However, apart from general statements that its VBrick product could “meet” these requirements, MediaNow’s quotation, including its attached product information sheets, provided no information that demonstrated these capabilities. Even in its protest submissions MediaNow fails to identify where in its quotation the required information may be found. On this record, GAO concludes that the agency reasonably found that MediaNow’s various blanket statements of compliance were inadequate to establish that its products met all salient characteristics. In these circumstances, MediaNow’s quotation was properly found to be unacceptable. The protest is denied.