Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Defense Intelligence Agency
Disposition: Protest Sustained in part, Denied in part.
- Protest that agency improperly evaluated awardee’s technical proposal is sustained where the record shows that the agency did not reasonably consider the awardee’s proposed technical approach, which included using “large numbers” of uncleared personnel to perform the solicitation’s requirements.
- Protest that agency failed to perform a reasonable price realism evaluation is sustained where the solicitation provided for evaluating offerors’ prices for realism, the awardee’s price proposal indicated that its low price was due to a particular technical approach, and the agency did not reasonably consider this technical approach in conducting its price realism assessment.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) protested the award to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) of a task order for intelligence analysis support of the ORION Analytical Capability (ORION O2) program. The TOR, issued to awardees under the agency’s Solution of Information Technology Enterprise (SITE) ID/IQ contract, contemplated award on a best value basis, considering technical/management and price evaluation factors. Regarding any tradeoff analysis to be performed, the TOR stated that the critical factor in making such a tradeoff was not the spread between technical ratings but, rather, the significance of that difference. Although the SSEB identified a potential risk in CSC’s technical proposal stemming from CSC having proposed a relatively low number of data engineers, it concluded that the cost impact to the government would be minimal because the increased level of effort would only be needed for the first year. The SSA found the proposals of SAIC and CSC to be technically equal, and made award to CSC as representing the best value to the government.
The GAO sustained SAIC’s protest of the agency’s failure to consider CSC’s proposed use of large numbers of uncleared personnel, finding that the record did not support the CO’s statement that he had reviewed the amount and type of labor CSC had stated would be conducted by personnel without critical clearances. It noted a comment by SAIC that such information didn’t even exist in CSC’s proposal, and that the SSEB could not have identified CSC’s level of use of uncleared personnel based on the general statements in CSC’s price proposal.
SAIC’s argument that the agency had failed to evaluate CSC’s proposal of “minimal resources” for data engineers as a weakness was then rejected by the GAO. The GAO pointed out that the record reflected that the agency had considered this as a risk, but had determined that any associated increase in cost would have only a minimal impact on CSC’s position as the lowest-priced offeror. The GAO then found without merit SAIC’s challenges to its own evaluation, disagreeing that its strengths should have been evaluated as significant strengths.
SAIC then argued that the agency improperly failed to conduct a price realism analysis required by the solicitation. The GAO found that the TOR did not provide for a price realism analysis per se, but that it effectively provided for such an evaluation based on the evaluation process the agency indicated it would use. The GAO concluded that, although the agency took steps to analyze CSC’s price for realism, its steps to do so fell short. It noted that the agency had not shown that it had the information to consider whether CSC’s low price based on its approach of using large numbers of uncleared personnel reflected on its understanding of the TOR’s requirements. Finally, the GAO rejected SAIC’s argument that the TOR did not accurately reflect the scope of the agency’s actual requirements.
Agencies are required to conduct their evaluation of proposals received in concordance with the terms of the solicitation. Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing so as to better understand the reasoning behind the agency’s source selection decision. If its evaluation deviates from the method laid out in the solicitation, or if the agency reached conclusions which are not documented in or otherwise supported by the record, the GAO is more likely to sustain a protest.