Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: NCS Technologies, Inc.
Agency: United States Marine Corps
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency improperly evaluated proposed prices is denied where the agency’s evaluation conformed to the terms of the solicitation; in any case, any ambiguity in the price evaluation method announced in the solicitation was patent, and protester was required to file before the closing time for receipt of proposals.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
NCS Technologies, Inc. protested the award to Intelligent Decisions, Inc. of a contract for hardware and logistics support. The RFP sought to obtain commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) servers, desktops, laptops, storage solutions, and rugged computing equipment, and included a Logistics Support Requirements (LSR) providing detailed descriptions of the warranty and warranty services required of vendors. Part I contained mandatory support provisions which were not individually offered or priced and were applicable to all assets procured. Part II of the LSR provided support enhancements to the standard warranty, and were itemized as CLINs which must be offered by vendors but were optional to the customer. The RFP contemplated award on a best value basis of multiple ID/IQ contracts for 22 submodules, and single award requirements contracts for the remaining two submodules. Two ID/IQ submodules were eliminated during evaluation; NCS was an awardee for 19 of the remaining 20 ID/IQ submodules. NCS then protested the award of the two requirements contract submodules to CDW-Government and Intelligent Decisions.
The GAO disagreed with NCS that neither LSR Part price should be included in the price evaluation. It found that an interpretation of the RFP that precluded consideration of the price of a required item would be inconsistent with the RFP read as a whole. It pointed out that reading one provision of the RFP as setting forth an evaluation scheme in which only the price of the laptops was considered, without considering the LSR Part I price, would have created a patent ambiguity with the rest of the RFP. Such an ambiguity would have needed to have been protested prior to the time set for receipt of proposals to be timely. The GAO then agreed with the agency that the total evaluated price was to include both the Part I and Part II prices.
In beginning the proposal preparation process, offerors should thoroughly read the evaluation scheme to understand how their proposals will be assessed. If any aspect of the RFP is unclear or ambiguous, offerors should reach out to the CO for clarification. Failure to raise the issue of patent ambiguities prior to the time set for receipt of proposals will render any subsequent protest objecting to the terms of the solicitation untimely.