Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service
Disposition: Protest Denied.
In a competition for the award of a concession special use permit for operation and maintenance of government-owned recreation facilities, protest challenging the agency’s evaluation of applications is denied, where the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with applicable statutes and regulations.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Recreation Resource Management of America, Inc. (RRMA) protested the award of a concession special use permit to Thousand Trails Management Services, Inc. for operation of the Rim Lakes Recreation Complex in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Applicants were informed that the application offering the best value to the government would be selected, with the proposed annual operating plan and fee to the government evaluation factors considered the most important. RRMA argued that its proposal should have been credited for offering additional services outside the permit area, and objected to the consideration of its overhead rate in evaluating the fee to the government factor.
The GAO agreed with the Forest Service’s explanation for why the additional services offered by RRMA were not considered, noting that the prospectus encouraged services that might produce additional revenue, unlike RRMA’s proposal to provide toilet maintenance along trails. The GAO also disregarded RRMA’s argument that the assignment of separate point scores for subfactors under the operating plan factor was improper. The GAO noted that RRMA was not prejudiced by the inclusion of subfactors, as it failed to demonstrate how its overall total score for that factor would have changed. Finally, the GAO disagreed with RRMA’s claim that the prospectus did not provide for consideration of applicants’ overhead in calculating proposed fees to the government. It pointed out that although the evaluation section only made reference to offset maintenance, the prospectus as a whole informed applicants that overhead costs were logically related to the stated evaluation criteria.
When drafting a proposal for a contract, offerors should not focus solely on satisfying the criteria upon which the prospectus indicates that offers will be assessed. In this case, although the evaluation factors only referred to offset maintenance, the GAO noted that in reading the entire prospectus as a whole, offerors should have been informed that their overhead costs would be relevant as well. Thus, contractors should carefully read a prospectus to determine what other aspects of their proposal may have an unstated influence on each evaluation factor.