Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: QinetiQ North America, Inc.
Agency: Department of Homeland Security
Disposition: Protest Denied.
1. Protest based on an alleged violation of the Procurement Integrity Act is denied, where, consistent with Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements, the agency investigated the alleged disclosure of protester’s employees’ resumes to the awardee by a protester’s former employee (who the awardee proposed and hired as a key contract personnel) and found no evidence of the alleged disclosure or any impact on the procurement and where protester has not shown that it was competitively disadvantaged.
2. Protest of an agency’s technical and price evaluations is denied where the record shows that the agency reasonably evaluated proposals consistent with the evaluation criteria, extensively documenting qualitative differences between the protester’s and awardee’s proposals.
3. Protest that an agency failed to conduct meaningful discussions and misled the protester is denied, where the agency informed the protester in numerous rounds of discussions of its evaluated deficiencies and weaknesses and did not mislead the protester.
General Counsel, P.C. Highlight:
QinetiQ North America, Inc. protested the award to Qbase-McNeil Integrated Solutions, RLLP (QMIS) of a contract for information technology field operations (ITFO) support services to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). QinetiQ, an incumbent subcontractor, protested the initial award to QMIS, resulting in corrective action by the agency. In addition to protesting the subsequent award following corrective action to QMIS, QinetiQ also alleged a possible Procurement Integrity Act (PIA) violation, claiming that someone at ICE with knowledge of the source selection informed a QinetiQ manager of impending contract award, permitting her to promptly quit and accept a position with QMIS.
The GAO first dismissed QinetiQ’s PIA allegation, noting that the agency followed all statutory procedures for investigating the alleged PIA violation; it also found that QinetiQ was not prejudiced by its former manager’s actions. The GAO then disagreed with QinetiQ’s assertion that the agency’s reevaluation of QinetiQ’s proposal, resulting in lower evaluation ratings, was improper and inadequately supported. Finally, the GAO found that the discussions conducted by the agency were not misleading, and that QinetiQ was afforded multiple opportunities to strengthen numerous aspects of its proposal.
Prior to preparing proposals, offerors should thoroughly analyze the statement of work and tailor their proposals accordingly. Boilerplate descriptions of an offeror’s proposed approach to a particular task, which is not directly related to the specific needs of the agency, may be insufficient to demonstrate that the offeror has a complete understanding of the skills needed for successful contract execution. Where an RFP requires a clear risk management plan, plans lacking specificity and substance may be deemed reactive, rather than strategic, resulting in lower evaluation ratings.