Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Nova Technologies
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s technical proposal is denied where the awardee submitted a technically acceptable proposal that was consistent with the terms of the solicitation.
- Protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s proposed price and past performance is denied where the record shows that the agency’s evaluations were reasonable.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Nova Technologies protested the award to Spiral Solutions and Technologies, Inc. of a contract for mission planning support services. This procurement, known as mission planning support contract II (MSPC II), was an SDVOSB set-aside to provide the services of systems support representatives (SSRs) at over 145 geographically separate locations around the world. The RFP provided that award would be made to the lowest-priced, technically acceptable offeror, so long as the offeror received the highest past performance rating of “substantial confidence.” If the lowest-priced, technically acceptable offeror did not receive this rating, then the SSA would perform a price/past performance trade-off to determine which proposal offered the best value to the government. Of five offers received, only Nova and Spiral were determined to be technically acceptable while providing complete pricing proposals; each also received a “substantial confidence” rating on past performance.
The GAO disagreed with Nova’s assertion that the RFP required offerors to propose specific employees to perform at each required operations tempo, and that Spiral’s proposed reliance on FTEs performing the work at each location at a particular operations tempo rendered its proposal technically unacceptable. The GAO found reasonable the agency’s conclusion that Spiral could meet the operations tempo and was therefore technically acceptable, despite Nova’s arguments to the contrary. The GAO then found no merit to the argument that the agency unreasonably evaluated the realism of Spiral’s proposed price, noting that Spiral’s lower price was due to its lower proposed FTEs, which was in turn a result of its differing technical approach. Finally, the GAO rejected Nova’s argument that the agency inconsistently evaluated Spiral’s past performance as compared to that of another offeror under the SSR subfactor. The GAO found that Nova merely disagreed with the agency’s evaluation, but that the agency had reasonably conducted an integrated assessment of the past performance of both Spiral and its subcontractor.
Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing to better understand any weaknesses assigned to their proposal, as well as the rationale behind the agency’s source selection decision. When deciding whether to pursue a bid protest, disappointed offerors should carefully consider whether they merely disagree with the agency’s award decision, or whether there appear to be improprieties in the procurement which support pursuing a protest.