Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Phoenix Management, Inc.
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency unreasonably evaluated awardee’s past performance is denied where decision to rate one reference relevant and one somewhat relevant was based on the work performed under each of the contracts compared to the work that was being solicited.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Phoenix Management, Inc. (PMI) protested the award to Data Monitor Systems, Inc. (DMS) of a contract for fuels management services at Tinker Air Force Base. Award was to be made to the technically acceptable offeror that provided the “best value” to the government based on a trade-off between past performance and price. After PMI protested the initial award to DMS, the agency took corrective action and requested the submission of revised FPRs with respect to past performance. Both PMI and DMS were rated acceptable for the technical factor and substantial confidence for past performance; the agency affirmed its award to DMS as providing the lowest price and best value to the government.
PMI objected to the agency’s evaluation of substantial confidence with respect to DMS’s past performance, arguing that DMS did not have relevant experience with respect to maintaining mission essential contractor services (MECS). The GAO found the agency’s evaluation reasonable, pointing out that the agency assigned differing relevance ratings to past contracts based on the fact that DMS performed all the tasks that would be performed under the current solicitation on one of those contracts, but only some of the tasks that would be performed on another contract. Finally, the GAO found no basis to conclude that the agency acted unreasonably and in violation of the Procurement Integrity Act, noting that the agency properly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing.
Disappointed offerors contemplating a post-award protest should request a debriefing to better understand how proposals were evaluated. Although an RFP may provide some detail as to what information will be considered under each of the factors, the agency may weigh several elements within each factor. While a disappointed offeror may feel that the awardee lacked relevant past performance, they should remember that the agency may consider magnitude, complexity of effort, breadth and depth of skills, scope and type, and schedule in determining the relevance of a past contract. A protest may fail if it focuses on the alleged lack of a single element where the agency has the discretion to consider several.