Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Smithsonian Institution
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency improperly failed to evaluate offerors’ proposed prices to determine whether they understood the requirements of the solicitation is denied where the protester fails to allege or demonstrate that there were technical weaknesses in the proposals that would have been revealed by such an analysis.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
People’s Accident Information Service, Inc., d/b/a Securit (Securit) protested the award to Allied Barton Security Services, LLC of a contract for unarmed security guard services at various locations in Washington, DC and New York, on the grounds that the agency misevaluated proposals. Securit argued that the agency should have performed a price realism evaluation, which would have demonstrated that the awardee’s prices were uncharacteristically low.
The GAO first noted that cost realism evaluations on fixed-price contracts are typically limited to assessing the technical understanding of the offeror. It found that the awardee had provided all requested pricing information, and that Securit had failed to offer any objective support that the awardee’s prices were too low. It pointed out that both parties used the same unburdened Service Contract Act (SCA)-mandated rate in their proposals; the fact that the awardee’s fully burdened rate was lower than Securit’s had no probative value in demonstrating that the awardee did not understand the requirement. Finally, the GAO dismissed Securit’s assertion that it was prejudiced by the inclusion of the clause at FAR § 52.222-46, Evaluation of Compensation for Professional Employees, as untimely. It noted that inclusion of this clause in an RFP which did not call for professional employees created a patent ambiguity on the face of the RFP, which must be protested prior to the deadline for submitting proposals.
If a protestor objects to the price evaluation of proposals in cases of fixed-price contracts, it must have objective support for its assertions. Price evaluations are typically limited to assessing the technical understanding of the offer, unless otherwise provided in the RFP. Merely claiming that the offeror’s price was too low will be insufficient to sustain a protest. The protestor must make a clear and detailed argument that the prices are unreasonable and indicate that this is due to the offeror failing in some way to understand the terms of the requirement.