Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: National Government Services, Inc.
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest that the agency’s evaluation of the protester’s technical proposal was unreasonable because the agency reached different evaluation conclusions in a related procurement is denied, where the procurements had different evaluators and source selection officials.
- Protest challenging the evaluation of the agency’s technical and past performance evaluations is denied where the record shows that the evaluations were reasonable and consistent with the solicitation.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
National Government Services, Inc. (NGS) protested the award to Wisconsin Physician Service Insurance Corp. (WPS) of a contract for Medicare administrative contractor (MAC) services in jurisdiction 8 (J8), covering Michigan and Indiana. NGS was originally awarded a contract to provide MAC services in J8 as part of a larger solicitation, but WPS successfully protested that award on the grounds that the agency’s evaluation of proposed costs, technical proposals, and past performance was flawed and that the agency had not provided meaningful discussions to WPS. The agency issued a revised solicitation, limited to providing MAC services in J8, which indicated that non-cost factors would be significantly more important than cost factors.
The GAO distinguished this case from its earlier decision in CIGNA Gov’t Servs., LLC, B-401062.2, B-401062.3, May 6, 2009, 2010 CPD ¶ 283, which NGS cited in support of its argument that the disparate evaluation ratings on its nearly identical proposals for J8 (awarded to WPS) and J6 (awarded to NGS) were unreasonable. It explained that these procurements were conducted under separate solicitations, did not involve a common source selection board (SSB) that reviewed the consensus ratings prepared by the evaluators, and a different source selection authority (SSA) was responsible for each award. The GAO disagreed with NGS’s argument that the agency improperly failed to credit its technical proposal with numerous strengths, finding the agency’s determinations reasonably supported by the record. It also rejected NGS’s assertion that the agency treated it and WPS unequally, finding the agency reasonably distinguished between the offerors’ proposals. The GAO then denied NGS’s claim that the agency failed to follow the RFP’s evaluation criteria regarding risk to the agency should it award more than one MAC contract to an offeror.
If an offeror submits proposals for separate solicitations related to similar procurements, such as solicitations to provide the same services in different jurisdictions, they should be aware that nearly identical proposals may result in different evaluation ratings. Disparate evaluation results may not always be grounds for protest, particularly when different SSBs and SSAs are conducting evaluations and making the selection for each solicitation. Offerors should consider whether nearly identical proposals for two different contracting offices best fulfills the needs of each solicitation, and should carefully consider whether there are aspects of each proposal that can be better tailored to the needs of that particular contracting office.