Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Protesting Terms of a Solicitation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: An agency has the discretion to determine its needs and the best way to meet them. An agency also has broad discretion in the selection of the evaluation criteria that will be used in an acquisition.
DL Toll (PDL) protests the terms of a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of the Navy (Navy), for ship husbanding services for Navy vessels. The RFP contemplated the award of a fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for a base year, with a six-month option period, to “the responsible offeror who submits the lowest price, technically acceptable offer with acceptable or neutral past performance.”
PDL argues that the use of the lowest-price, technically-acceptable source selection process is not appropriate for this acquisition and asks that the Navy use a tradeoff process. PDL also argues that the agency should conduct a comparative assessment of the offerors’ past performance and that the agency has improperly omitted several husbanding services that are provided under an existing contract for husbanding services.
GAO states that an agency has the discretion to determine its needs and the best way to meet them. An agency also has broad discretion in the selection of the evaluation criteria that will be used in an acquisition, and GAO will not object to the absence or presence of a particular evaluation criterion so long as the criteria used reasonably relate to the agency’s needs in choosing a contractor or contractors that will best serve the government’s interest.
The record reflects that the agency reasonably determined that the lowest-price, technically-acceptable approach to evaluate offers was best where the decision was based on the fact that the requirement was relatively noncomplex, and there was little performance risk. There was also a substantial amount of information provided to the offerors in solicitation. Additionally, the agency explains that the requirements included in the solicitation were intentionally limited to those the agency would actually require during the contract’s short performance period and for which estimated quantities could be provided. The agency states that if additional requirements for supplies and services arise under the contract to be awarded, it will then determine the acquisition method for obtaining those requirements. GAO cannot find this determination to be unreasonable. The protest is denied.