Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: PN&A, Inc.
Agency: Department of Energy
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency misevaluated protester’s quotation is denied where the record reasonably supports evaluation that the protester’s quotation was unacceptable in several respects and the protester has provided no basis to question the reasonableness of the agency’s evaluation.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
PN&A, Inc. protested the award to the Center for Professional Development, Inc. (CPD) of a contract to provide leadership and development support in order to advance the new OneLeadership and Development Initiative (OLI) for the workforce of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The procurement was set aside for small businesses, and was conducted under FAR Part 12 (Acquisition of Commercial Items) and FAR Part 13.5 (Test Program for Certain Commercial Items). After oral presentations, the agency requested clarifications by telephone from three vendors, including CPD. PN&A’s quotation was rated lower than almost all other quotations, with an exceptional rating under past performance but unacceptable ratings under the technical analysis and oral presentation factors.
The GAO disagreed with PN&A’s argument that its “exceptional” past performance rating rendered “irrational” its unsatisfactory technical ratings, noting that the factors evaluate different areas and have no bearing on each other. The GAO also disagreed that offerors were treated disparately by the agency only seeking clarifications from three of the twelve offerors. The GAO found that the post-oral presentations were not discussions, as the offerors did not revise their proposals in response, and that the agency therefore was not required to contact all offerors.
Agencies have the discretion to seek clarification from some, but not all, offerors. So long as the offeror merely provides additional explanation for what it had previously proposed, and does not revise its proposal, the GAO will consider the communication a clarification and not a discussion. Disappointed offerors in this situation will not be able to sustain a protest based on a failure to provide meaningful discussions.