Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Remote Broadcast Services
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of the protester’s quotation and award determination is denied where the record demonstrates that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria and the protester’s challenges to the independent government estimate and allegations of bias are unsupported by the record.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Remote Broadcast Services (RBS) protested the award to N&J Enterprise, LLC of a contract for wilderness equipment maintenance and horse packing services. The contractor was to provide all personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, and other items necessary to perform wilderness radio equipment maintenance and horse packing services at remote sites accessible only by horse or by foot. Under the company experience and demonstrated capability evaluation factor, all of the subfactors except for quality assurance required experience with both radio and horse packing services. RBS’s quotation emphasized its experience with radio and related systems, but gave little attention to horse packing, merely stating that it would subcontract horse packing services to an unidentified “qualified, experienced” company. Award was made to N&J as offering the best value to the government.
The GAO first found without merit RBS’s contention that the agency gave too much weight in its evaluation to horse packing. The GAO pointed out that each of the evaluation criteria for which RBS was rated inferior to N&J specifically stated that horse packing services were an important consideration and that nothing in the criteria suggested that horse packing would be given lesser weight in the evaluation than radio experience. The GAO then rejected RBS’s challenge to the IGE, noting that RBS had not provided any industry standards or estimates to show that the IGE was unreasonable. Finally, the GAO denied RBS’s arguments of bias on the grounds that an N&J employee formerly worked at the agency, and that a current agency evaluator worked in the same area as the N&J employee. It pointed out that the agency removed from the evaluation team an individual that had worked with an N&J employee in the past, and required all remaining evaluators to sign a conflict of interest statement attesting to their ability to act in an objective manner.
Vendors bear the burden of submitting quotations which comply with all terms of the RFQ. Where the RFQ indicates that vendors demonstrate experience in more than one area of expertise, vendors must ensure that their quotation adequately addresses each of those areas. Although a vendor may subcontract certain tasks in which it does not have experience, its quotation must clearly detail its subcontracting plan and how it will obtain the requisite experience through subcontractors. Failure to adequate address all areas of expertise required under company experience evaluation factors may result in the assignment of weaknesses, and vendors may not be provided the opportunity to revise their quotation.