Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Oklahoma State University
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest Dismissed in Part; Denied in Part.
- Protest of price evaluation is denied where the record indicates that the agency performed a reasonable analysis of offerors’ prices.
- Where agency conducted discussions with both protester and awardee, identifying specific flaws in each offeror’s proposal, agency’s discussion questions regarding particular flaws in awardee’s proposal did not constitute preferential treatment.
- Protest of alleged organizational conflicts of interest is denied where the protester has not identified any hard facts indicating the existence, or potential existence, of a conflict.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Oklahoma State University (OSU) protested the award to Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) of a contract to produce joint munitions effectiveness manuals (JMEM), tools, and related publications required by the Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Munitions Effectiveness (JTCG/ME). Award was to be made to the offeror submitting the lowest priced technically acceptable proposal, and the solicitation expressly advised offerors that no additional credit would be given for exceeding acceptability. OSU’s initial proposal was rated unacceptable under four of the technical evaluation subfactors, and its cost/price proposed for Task Order 0001 was understated and therefore unrealistic. The agency opened discussions with the offerors, providing them with several evaluation notices (ENs).
The GAO first determined that the agency performed an adequate price realism analysis, comparing the offerors’ rates to each other and to comparable GSA FSS contracts. It disagreed that the agency improperly gave ARA preferential treatment by allowing it to revise its disclosure statement, noting that both parties were afforded equal opportunities to address the portions of their proposals that required revision, explanation, or amplification. Finally, the GAO rejected OSU’s argument that ARA had an impermissible OCI, pointing out that the agency conducted a thorough investigation of OSU’s allegations and reasonably concluded that no OCIs were apparent.
When conducting discussions with offerors, the agency must afford all offerors equal opportunities to address the portions of their proposals that require revision or other adjustments. Discussions are not required, however, to be identical; rather, they should be tailored to address the specific shortcomings of each offeror’s proposal. The GAO does not view as preferential treatment an agency’s decision to direct an offeror to particular areas of its proposal that it needs to modify to be competitive.