Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest that additive bid amounts were improperly included in calculation of bidders’ prices for evaluation purposes is denied where evaluation in this manner was consistent with reasonable reading of relevant solicitation language.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
National asserts that, based on its reading of amendment 1, which states that “A single award will be made on Bid Item 1 and Bid Item 2. If additional funds are available then Bid Add Alternate 1 will be added to the award. If more additional funds are available then Bid Add Alternate 2 will be added to the award. If more additional funds are available then Bid Add Alternate 3 will be added to the award. If more additional funds are available then Bid Add Alternate 4 will be added to the award. If more additional funds are available, then Bid Add Alternate 5 will be added to the award,” the additive bid item prices improperly were included in the calculation of bidders’ prices and that it should have received award on the basis of its low bid for the two base items. GAO states that in interpreting solicitation language, GAO will read the solicitation as a whole and in a manner that gives effect to all of its provisions. To be reasonable, an interpretation must be consistent with the solicitation when read as a whole and in a reasonable manner.
Here, the only relevant IFB reference to the price evaluation is the quoted amendment 1 provision. National’s interpretation turns on the first sentence of that provision, which refers to a single award on items 1 and 2. However, National’s interpretation fails to account for the balance of the provision, which goes on to explain that, if additional funds are available, alternate items will be added to the award. National reads this language, essentially, as providing that, even where VA finds it appropriate to award additional items, the price evaluation will be limited to items 1 and 2. However, the provision includes no language supporting this interpretation, which would result in an award that does not represent the lowest price for the items awarded. Rather, the provision, read as a whole, advises bidders only that, at a minimum, a single award will be made for items 1 and 2 and that, if additional funds are found to be available, the additive items also will be awarded; the provision nowhere states that the prices for additive items to be awarded will not be evaluated. The protest is denied.