Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Health & Human Services
Disposition: Protest denied.
Agency reasonably found that awardee’s proposal complied with solicitation provision calling for nearby performance facility, even though it proposed to have only management personnel at that facility, where solicitation only required management–not all–personnel to be located at nearby facility.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
The RFP’s statement of work established the following requirement: “The contractor shall have a facility within 15 miles of CMS for the duration of this contract. The contractor’s Project Management staff shall be located at this facility. The facility must accommodate contractor staff working on this contract and provide for meeting space.” NGIT asserts that CGI’s proposal did not comply with this provision because CGI proposed to perform the majority of its work at a facility more than 15 miles away from CMS headquarters, in Woodlawn, Maryland. The agency responds that its evaluation was reasonable because this provision required only that project management staff–not all staff–perform at the nearby facility, and CGI met this requirement. GAO states that the interpretation of solicitation language must be consistent with the solicitation when read as a whole and in a manner that gives effect to all of its provisions.
NGIT’s assertions here simply are not reasonable. Reading the quoted provision as a whole, while it is plain that offerors were required to have a facility within 15 miles of CMS headquarters, it is just as plain, contrary to NGIT’s interpretation, that the provision does not require all staff to be located there; rather, only project management staff is specified. The remainder of the provision only generally calls for accommodation of staff working on the contract and provision of meeting space; it does not require that all other contractor personnel be located at the facility. To read the provision otherwise would make the requirement specifying the location of project management personnel redundant and the provision, at best, patently ambiguous; the protester was obligated to challenge any such ambiguity prior to submitting its proposal. GAO concludes that there was no basis for the agency to reject or downgrade CGI’s proposal for proposing to locate non-project management staff more than 15 miles from CMS. The protest is denied.