Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: NikSoft Systems Corp.
Agency: Department of Justice
Disposition: Protest Sustained.
1. Agency request that protest be dismissed on the basis that the protester is not an interested party due to an organizational conflict of interest (OCI) is denied, where the agency has not shown its OCI determination is based on hard facts showing the protester had unequal access to competitively-useful information.
2. Protest challenging source selection decision in a best-value procurement is sustained where the agency selected awardee’s higher-rated quotation without meaningfully considering the protester’s lower price.
3. Protest is sustained where agency failed to provide meaningful explanation of its evaluation of the protester’s past performance.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
NikSoft Systems Corp. protested the establishment of a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) and placement of an initial call to LS3 Incorporated for federal identity, credential, and access management (FICAM) services. The RFQ indicated that the awardee would select and purchase commercial software for the FICAM framework, provide detailed design for various interfaces, develop source code, and conduct system testing.
The GAO first rejected the agency’s request for dismissal on the grounds that NikSoft was not an interested party because it would be ineligible for award due to an OCI. The GAO found that the agency’s determination was not based on “hard facts” that NikSoft had unequal access to non-public information, and failed to explain how NikSoft’s participation in the preparation of the FICAM implantation plan conferred an unfair advantage. The GAO then agreed with NikSoft that the agency failed to meaningfully consider whether LS3’s higher-priced quotation was worth the associated cost premium. The GAO also sustained the assertion that NikSoft should have received an exceptional rating under the past performance evaluation factor, finding that the agency did not reasonably explain why it assigned NikSoft an acceptable rating. The GAO recommended that the agency investigate whether NikSoft has a significant OCI and perform a new best value source selection decision.
Disappointed offerors should request a debriefing so as to understand the agency’s source selection decision. Where the agency failed to adequately consider all the information provided by an offeror, or failed to comply with the evaluation criteria identified in the RFQ, there may be grounds for a successful protest.